As NBA mock draft 2017 speculation continues, there’s recent news with regard to top prospect Lonzo Ball. The UCLA talent known for his brilliance on the court is also known for his bold outspoken father, LaVar. Over the previous months, Lonzo’s dad has talked up his son as one of the greatest players ever before his son has even stepped on the professional basketball court. The proud father also boasted that his son deserved a lofty basketball shoe endorsement deal ahead of his being selected by a pro team. Will the recently rejected offers hurt Lonzo Ball in the NBA Draft 2017? Also, which players might the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers target in the first round?
According to a recent report from ESPN, three major shoe companies have rejected deals to sign Lonzo Ball to their brand ahead of him joining the NBA. Those three companies just so happen to be three of the biggest, with Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas all saying no to the potential NBA future star. Reportedly, Lonzo’s father met with all three companies and attempted to negotiate deals in which they would license his own brand, Big Baller Brand, from him. The meetings also included a prototype of what Lonzo’s first shoe would look like. However, none of the companies were interested.
Some people have called LaVar Ball’s strategy unreasonable, while others, including Ball, see it as unorthodox but the way of the future.
Ball recently commented on the concept.
“Just imagine how rich Tiger [Woods], Kobe [Bryant], Serena [Williams], [Michael] Jordan and LeBron [James] would have been if they dared to do their own thing. No one owned their own brand before they turned pro. We do, and I have three sons, so it’s that much more valuable.”
So far, it appears that Lonzo Ball’s draft stock has not taken a hit with the latest rejection. He’s still projected by multiple NBA mock draft websites to be selected within the top three of the draft order. Most expect he will be the first or second pick, heading to the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, or Los Angeles Lakers. A recent report by Bleacher Report indicated that Lonzo Ball will skip the upcoming NBA Draft Combine.
It’s not an unusual move; in fact, last year’s top pick, Ben Simmons, also skipped the process. It’s been said that many prospects skip the combine due to the medical screening that is performed there, as it is a key piece of leverage agents have in negotiating deals with potential teams. As of this report, some mock draft speculation has Lonzo Ball ending up as the third pick for the Los Angeles Lakers, with Josh Jackson and Markelle Fultz being drafted ahead of him.
Two Eastern Conference teams in desperate need of help to improve their team rosters are the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks. One team is slowly loading up on potential future stars while the other contains a longtime All-Star with whom management seems ready to part ways. Philadelphia has young talents Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons ready to hit the court together next season and could potentially get the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft.
Current speculation has Philadelphia drafting Duke small forward Jayson Tatum at that slot or Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox. A guard could make the best sense as the team will be able to pair him up with Ben Simmons to help run the show. Fox was brilliant in the Kentucky Wildcats’ NCAA tournament win against Lonzo Ball, putting the spotlight on his abilities to lead a team to the win.
The Kentucky freshman averaged 16.7 points, four rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game in his first season with the Wildcats. The team probably wouldn’t go wrong with Tatum either, as he put up 16.8 points, grabbed 7.3 rebounds, and dished 2.1 assists a contest.
As for the New York Knicks, the team has continued to struggle over the last several seasons. While Phil Jackson believes that it’s time for Carmelo Anthony to go in favor of building around Kristaps Porzingis and others, there are plenty of people who feel it might be time for Phil Jackson to go. That said, the team could have the sixth or seventh pick in this year’s NBA Draft order.
There has been speculation they’ll opt for big man Lauri Markkanen from Arizona or Fox’s Kentucky backcourt mate Malik Monk. Markkanen could become a double-double machine as part of the Knicks’ front court based on his talents, while Monk could give the Knicks the point guard they need for the future. It’s uncertain what might become of Derrick Rose going forward, but if he stays, he could help groom Monk to be the team’s next great guard. There’s also been talk that even Fox could slide down to the Knicks at this spot, as CBS Sports mentioned in their mock draft, so stay tuned.
With that said, the next step in the evaluation process is the upcoming NBA Draft Combine, which starts on May 9 and ends on May 14. The NBA Draft lottery results will be determined on Tuesday, May 16, letting teams and their fans know exactly where they stand ahead of June’s NBA Draft.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]