Lonzo Ball had his first and only workout with the Los Angeles Lakers last week, and while Ball impressed the Lakers with his leadership and offensive game, there was a lot left to be desired with his conditioning, according to Mark Medina of The Orange County Register.
Despite the Ball family’s obvious desire to stay in L.A., other reports suggest the Lakers are heavily considering other options at this point. It’s clear Ball wants to play for the Lakers, but there have been conflicting reports from different sources about how much the Lakers actually value Ball.
Ball finished last season as one of the four NCAA Player of the Year finalists and led the UCLA Bruins to a Sweet 16 appearance. Many regard him as the second-best player in this draft behind Markelle Fultz.
Why this will affect Ball’s draft stock
Most believe in Lonzo Ball’s talent, but he was already on shaky ground with some scouts because of his father LaVar Ball’s outsized influence on his career.
Jerry Colangelo, the father of 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, said drafting Lonzo Ball would be a “challenge” because of the influences around him. Translation: His dad is too noisy. And teams don’t want to have to deal with that noise.
That, however, has no bearing on how the Lakers view LaVar Ball. Luke Walton previously said LaVar Ball wouldn’t factor into the equation for the Lakers if they were to draft Lonzo. But if Lonzo Ball is out of shape and LaVar Ball won’t stop talking? That could create a problem for the Lakers or any other team that would choose Ball in the draft.
His talent will ultimately be enough to overshadow these things, but those potential concerns matter to teams. Half of doing good work is showing up prepared, and if reports are true, Ball couldn’t do that. Right or wrong, his work ethic is now in question along with the influence of his father.
Why this is a smokescreen from some opposing GM
Ball is a very talented player with a skill set we haven’t really seen in years. He’s not a traditional scorer who can notch 20 points in the blink of an eye, but he will pick defenses apart in the league by choosing the right play every single time down.
By all accounts, he’s a great teammate and a solid leader in the locker room with a weird-looking, but productive jump shot, athleticism, and elite passing ability. It will be hard for the Lakers to pass him up at No. 2, but if they do, there will be a handful of teams that pounce on him from the Sixers at No. 3 all the way down.
This rumor of Ball’s poor conditioning may just be a way for another team to devalue him in an effort to get the Lakers to pass on him.
But conditioning can change in a matter of weeks. Ball hasn’t played competitive basketball in nearly three months. A drop off can be expected — even if he’s worked out on his own up to this point.
Probability the Lakers pass on Ball: 4/10
The Lakers and Lonzo Ball are nearly a perfect match. While he’s not a perfect prospect by any means, he’s just as much a sure thing as Josh Jackson or De’Aaron Fox and is also a better shooter than both of them.
According to Medina’s report, Ball only went through individual drills and stuff with coaches. While having Ball show his individual skills in a two-on-two setting is all well and good, it’s not what he’s best at. The Lakers know they can’t overreact to a single workout from Ball.
For better and for worse, the Lakers are mindful of not overreacting to individual workouts considering the various restrictions. Instead of playing against any prospects, Ball played two-on-two against some of the Lakers’ assistant coaches. Though his workout entailed various shooting drills, Ball did not have the chance to show other things, including how he operates out of the pick-and-roll.
That may be a big concern of the Lakers and, ultimately, could lead to them passing up on a chance to have Ball suit up for them. But if they do pass on him, it won’t be because he was breathing a little too hard after an individual workout.