Lonzo Ball s NBA draft stock stays strong
Lonzo Ball's NBA draft stock stays strong

By now the entire basketball world knows Lonzo Ball is a singular talent with a unique parent.

The UCLA product with preternatural court vision is among the most intriguing prospects in the NBA draft this week.

In perhaps the greatest testament to Ball's abilities, his father LaVar's bombast and $495 shoes and racially insensitive comments don't appear to be scaring off the Los Angeles Lakers or any other team that believe Lonzo could be the next great point guard.

Because of his headline-magnet father, Ball's celebrity has outpaced his talents before he plays his first professional game.

Yet ever since his days leading the Big Ballers AAU team set up by his dad, Lonzo has shown nothing but maturity and calm in the face of LaVar's audacious approaches to hoops, parenting and the business of sports.

"I think it definitely doesn't help," Ball said of his father's notoriety.

"Definitely makes it a little bit harder.

"But any good player is going to have attention on him at all times, and I'm pretty used to it by now."

Ball's mental steadiness is another big reason he's almost certain to be a top-three pick in the draft.

Ever since the Lakers got the No. 2 choice in the lottery last month, most draft observers have believed Ball will wear a gold jersey, completing a serendipitous match of player and team.

That's been the dream scenario for the entire Ball family ever since Lonzo showed the first inklings of world-class talent.

He was raised in Chino Hills, a suburb about 35 miles east of Staples Center, and LaVar Ball is an ardent fan of the Lakers, specifically Magic Johnson, the Hall of Fame point guard now running their basketball operations.

After Ball worked out for the Lakers last week, he didn't mince words about his hopes to make it permanent: "Of course. I want to stay home."

Point guard Ball led the nation in assists (7.7) while turning the Bruins into the highest-scoring team in Division I basketball.

The freshman showed astonishing passing ability while orchestrating the UCLA offence, utilising angles and defensive creases that made him look more like an attacking soccer midfielder than a basketball player.

And if any NBA team is worried about having the ultimate sports parent in the front row, UCLA coach Steve Alford has repeatedly said LaVar wasn't a problem for him.

Just a few days away from the draft, Ball still appears to be a splendid fit with the Lakers, whose up-tempo offence under coach Luke Walton looks tailor-made for Ball's skills.

The Lakers just completed the worst four-year stretch in franchise history, but their fans hope that another playmaking superstar will be their reward for the 16-time NBA champions' misery.

"They need a leader," Ball said after working out for the Lakers recently.

"They need a point guard, and I feel like I can fill that hole."

AAP

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