After enduring multiple losing seasons, Lakers fans suddenly got a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Following a year of speculation and doubt, it was revealed that they would indeed keep their 2017 NBA Draft pick Tuesday, with their selection being second overall.
“I’m good at No. 2, when you’ve got this much quality of talent that’s in this draft,” Lakers President Magic Johnson told ESPN. “This draft is just not 1-5, 1-6 — this draft is 1-30. They’ve got some really good players in this draft.”
“This is one of the deepest drafts I’ve seen. We’re excited. No. 2 is good. It’s better than not having a pick at all. We’re excited. When he said who was No. 4, I went, ‘OK, I’m good now,’ If I get [No.] 3, I’m good. If I get [No.] 2, I’m good. If I get [No.] 1, I’m good. So it’s a good situation to be in,” he added.
This marks the third consecutive season the Lakers will select second overall. They chose Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell with the pick in 2015 and Duke’s Brandon Ingram in 2016.
In the events leading up to Tuesday’s lottery selection, it had been widely speculated that the Lakers would be interested in selecting UCLA guard Lonzo Ball if they were lucky enough to keep their pick. Ball, who grew up in nearby Chino Hills, has also expressed his desire to stay local and play for his home town team, with his father, LaVar Ball appearing on multiple media outlets expressing a desire to “speak it into existence.”
“All I said was that my boy is going to play for the Lakers, and I’m going to speak it into existence,” LaVar Ball told ESPN‘s Jeff Goodman back in February.
“I want him to be a Laker, but I wasn’t saying he’s only going to play for the Lakers. I’m not trying to say he won’t play for a different team. But I’d like him to play for the Lakers because it’s home and I’d love him to learn from Magic (Johnson) He’s the best guard ever to me, and nobody better for Lonzo to learn from than Magic Johnson.”
Following the draft pick announcement, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka reiterated that the team had multiple plans of attack for June’s draft, even in the event that they were not lucky enough for the ping-pong balls to fall in their favor.
“We have a winning plan in place and it wasn’t contingent around tonight,” Pelinka told Lakers website reporter Joey Ramirez.
“What this does is just kind of establishes what our assets are in the short term, and now we can start making all the chess moves we want to affect the winning plan that we have.”
Regardless of what the team was planning and discussing internally, the day still marked a big occasion for Lakers fans who have endured multiple losing seasons, something that they haven’t been used to since the Buss family acquired ownership in 1979.
Just how big?
Following the announcement that they would indeed be keeping their pick and selecting at No. 2, Magic Johnson tweeted that he was enjoying the draft lottery process with Rob Pelinka, and that this year’s second overall pick will mark the official start of the rebuilding process.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 17, 2017
Local sports affiliates have been discussing the NBA Draft lottery for seemingly the entire season.
And with that, the Chris Paul debt has been officially repaid. The league and the Lakers can both go on with their lives again. AK
— Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers) May 17, 2017
Many even indicated that this marked the most important date of the Lakers’ 2016-2017 season, and possibly even the next season. Fans even had a lottery watch party at Tom’s Urban L.A. LIVE, a restaurant mere steps from Staples Center.
In addition to Lonzo Ball, Washington guard Makelle Fultz, Kansas forward Josh Jackson, and Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox are also expected to be top selections in this year’s draft, which takes place June 22.