EL SEGUNDO – Lonzo Ball believes he’s the best player in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft. On Wednesday, he got his first opportunity to prove that.
Ball worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers at their practice facility in front of general manager Magic Johnson and the team’s coaching staff. The workout consisted of “a lot” of shooting drills and running, he said, adding that the session tired him out.
But when he spoke with reporters after his workout, Ball eluded more to how his personality would fit the team rather than what he specifically could do on the basketball court.
“They have a lot of good players,” Ball said of the Lakers. “I just think they need a leader, a point guard, and I feel I can bring that to the team.”
Ball played point guard for his lone season at UCLA, averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. The Chino Hills native said he brought a winning atmosphere to the Bruins, and wants to do the same with the Lakers if he’s selected by them.
Ball said he believes he was born a leader.
“Everything you do, you gotta do it for the team,” Ball said.
The Lakers feature a young core of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. Ball feels he would fit in with that group quite well.
“They’re young, I’m young,” Ball said. “I see they like to run, I love to run. So I think we can complement each other very well.”
Ball grew up a Lakers fan, watching games in his living room with his father, Lavar. One of the players he studied was Magic Johnson, now the president of basketball operations for the Lakers.
Ball met Johnson at a dinner in Venice on Tuesday night, along with head coach Luke Walton and general manager Rob Pelinka. From the sound of it, Ball and the group had a positive first meeting.
“Magic Johnson is one of the greatest players to ever play,” Ball said. “I love the way coach Walton coaches. Rob’s a great dude, too. So just meeting them all is a blessing.”
Ball said he patterned his game after Johnson growing up as a young basketball player, and seemed genuinely grateful for the opportunity to meet him.
“Best point guard to ever play,” Ball said of Johnson. “Me being a point guard, I looked up to him my whole life. To finally get a chance to meet him, it was just a blessing.”
While Lavar has frequently said his would only work out for the Lakers, Ball seemed more open to the idea of meeting with other teams, saying that he’ll leave those decisions up to his agent.
Ball also directly addressed his thoughts on what would happen if the Lakers didn’t take him at No. 2.
“I’ll go to any team and just do what I do and play basketball,” Ball said.
There’s been some concern that with Lavar’s vociferous proclamations Ball is destined to be a Laker that he would be a distraction to the coaching staff or management. But Ball didn’t seem worried.
“They said that about me in high school (and) said that about me in college,” Ball said. “I don’t think it’ll affect me.”
All in all, Ball confirmed that he wants to play in the purple and gold.
“I want to stay home,” Ball said.