It’s widely expected that the Boston Celtics will draft Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
While nothing is for certain at this time, we will operate under the assumption that this will occur.
The Los Angeles Lakers will then be on the clock with the second overall selection in the first round. There are multiple players vying for the spot. Should Fultz be off the board, the Lakers would likely narrow it down to a trio of players: Kansas F/G Josh Jackson, Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox, and UCLA PG Lonzo Ball.
Jackson is a fantastic prospect. He’s got terrific positional versatility — as he can guard multiple spots on the floor. Jackson can shoot it from the perimeter, and use his athleticism to attack the cup. With that said, it’s unlikely that the Lakers would pull the trigger on Jackson — considering Brandon Ingram was the selection a season ago. In theory, the choice would then be down to Ball and Fox.
Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony tweeted out these thoughts:
Word out of LA is Lonzo Ball is heavy favorite at #2, but will take a long hard look at De’Aaron Fox too. Hoping for a head to head workout.
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 17, 2017
Fox is the better athlete of the two. Possessing world-class quickness and agility, he’s adept at slithering his way to the rim at will. Fox is equipped with a myriad of floaters and tear drops around the basket, and can finish at the rim quite well. Defensively, he’s buoyed by length and athleticism.
There are two main deterrents in Fox’s game. For one, he’s still a bit slight from a frame standpoint. Fox will need to put on both weight and strength (which should happen as he physically matures). Secondly, his shooting from the perimeter is atrocious. Fox shot 24.6-percent from three-point range this past year. Considering the current climate of the NBA, this simply cannot happen if Fox is to develop into a star point guard.
Ball is three inches taller than Fox (6’6″). His length and overall size makes him a very tough cover for smaller guards to match-up against. Ball led the NCAA in assists this past season. He also engineered arguably the best offense in all of College Basketball.
Ball’s ability to make teammates better is immense. He’s able to see the play unfold before it fully develops. Ball truly a is once-in-a-generation-type pass-first point guard. While his funky shot could be an issue going right off the dribble, he’s shot over 40-percent from three-point land. There’s no doubt Ball is a unique — and unconventional — player. However, with the right fit, he could be transcendent.
The two squared off versus each other twice in the regular season, with their respective teams splitting the two-game series. Head-to-head match-ups are traditionally an effective barometer when comparing players. Here’s how each fared in the contests:
14 points, 5/12 from the field, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block, 1 steal (Win at Kentucky)
10 points, 4-10 from the field, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks (Loss vs. Kentucky in NCAA Tournament)
20 points, 8-of-20 from the field, 2 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal (Loss vs. UCLA)
39 points, 13-of-20 from the field, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals (Win vs. UCLA in the NCAA Tournament)
At first glance, Fox did get the edge over Ball. He was able to utilize his athleticism and explosiveness to get to the rim, and pressured Ball a great deal of the time. Ball was able to shoot over Fox on step-back jumpers.
This tweet provides a comprehensive analytical breakdown comparing the two:
For the people who think Fox > Ball because of one game pic.twitter.com/zNkIbQel2M
— mart (@bruwinss) May 15, 2017
The Lakers will have a tough decision to make. Undoubtedly, the pressure surrounding Ball is palpable. Hailing from Southern California, the point guard starred at UCLA. Many have compared his game to current Lakers’ President Magic Johnson. Couple that with the entertaining nature of Ball’s game, and he appears to be a perfect fit for how head coach Luke Walton wants to play.
On the flip-side, Fox has a scary-high ceiling — perhaps on par with John Wall.
Only time will tell as to which direction the Lakers will pivot.
Image Source: Daily Bruin