For many, the biggest turnoff about Lonzo Ball has nothing to do with basketball.
Ball figures to be one of the top picks in the 2017 NBA Draft thanks in large to his impressive playmaking ability, which he displayed throughout his freshman season at UCLA. Whichever team selects the talented point guard will have to deal with his outspoken father, though, and anyone who has paid attention to sports media recently knows that could be a huge undertaking.
So, just how much has Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, impacted the 19-year-old’s draft stock to this point?
The New York Post concluded after interviewing a dozen general managers, personnel directors and scouts at last week’s NBA Draft Combine that the UCLA star likely won’t slide past the No. 2 pick in this June’s draft, with Washington standout Markelle Fultz going No. 1. But some apparently wonder if Ball would be considered the clear top pick if it wasn’t for the baggage that comes with having such a polarizing and vocal father who has no problem making outlandish comments in the media.
Consider some of these quotes that the New York Post obtained regarding the Balls:
“Talking to people here, some guys are straying away from him as a top pick. If you don’t play him the right way, is the father going to say something? And you don’t want to have him on a big stage like New York. You’re always thinking: What’s next?”
— a Western Conference scout whose team is not in the NBA draft lottery
“I don’t think he falls past 2, but it’s a concern in the back of everyone’s mind. The team will have to sit down with Lonzo and LaVar to set the groundwork. It will be interesting.”
— an Eastern Conference executive whose team is not in the NBA draft lottery
“People are looking at the talents and the character of the individual. There are sometimes outside influences that you concern yourself with. But in this case, it doesn’t seem to be disruptive to anyone but his own brand value. I don’t think it will affect the team … as the kid is well-balanced. That’s the most important thing. We are probably less concerned with the father than the media is making it out.”
“We’ve heard the kid is very well-balanced, appears to be a very likable teammate and solid contributor to the UCLA program.”
— a general manager whose team is in the NBA draft lottery
“It doesn’t matter at this level. If the kid can play, you take him at this level. It’s about the kid himself. This is the pros.”
— a Western Conference GM
“No effect at all. I think what you’re drafting is the son and not the father. I think that you also are gauging and evaluating his son on his ability and what he can do not only on the basketball court but also what he can do for your team.”
— Lakers president Magic Johnson, whose team could wind up with one of the top picks in this year’s draft
In other words, there are plenty of people in various roles across the NBA who have no concerns about Ball, who interestingly has a rather reserved demeanor despite his father’s knack for ticking people off. That bodes well for the young guard’s draft future, of course, but there’s certainly reason to believe that proven NBA stars will be looking to exploit his weaknesses and, in turn, shut his dad’s mouth once he enters The Association.
Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images