Lakers Select Lonzo Ball No. 2 in 2017 NBA Draft as LaVar Predicted

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2017

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 24:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins walks off the court after being defeated by the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 24, 2017 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Lonzo Ball, one of the most unique talents to hit the NBA draft in years, is officially a member of the Los Angeles Lakers after he was taken with the No. 2 pick on Thursday night. 

The marriage between Ball and the Lakers was seemingly set up months ago when Ball's father, LaVar Ball, mentioned it during the college basketball season. 

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

Lonzo is staying home!! Welcome to the #LakeShow @ZO2_!! https://t.co/pSIlNl0EWu

LaVar was back it before the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with this gem on the ESPN broadcast, via Sports Illustrated's Andrew Perloff:

Andrew Perloff @andrewperloff

"From the words of Zeus, Jesus, everybody says he's going to be a Laker. They told me before they told y'all." -LaVar https://t.co/ms5h5xo4uB

Here's what social media had to say about Ball becoming a member of the Lakers:

Matthew Ambien Cherry @MatthewACherry

Adam Silver: With the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 #NBADraft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Lonzo Ball Lavar Ball: https://t.co/ZMWj0Dq8fO

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Get your tickets to the Lonzo Lake Show! #SCtop10 https://t.co/KHpc6HelLn

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

The Lakers take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick! https://t.co/87PIjq3xRF

UCLA Basketball @UCLAMBB

He’s not going far! Congrats to Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_), the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 @NBADraft by the @Lakers. #NBABruins https://t.co/1rniWiZYUW

Mike Bresnahan @Mike_Bresnahan

Lonzo called it "crazy" to now be working with Magic Johnson. Couldn't ask for anything better, he added.

Darren Rovell @darrenrovell

Less than a minute after his son gets drafted by the Lakers, LaVar Ball put on the Big Baller hat in Lakers colors https://t.co/v0U2OHUaEh

Joel Embiid @JoelEmbiid

Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.. https://t.co/cMvt5RYiSQ

The UCLA point guard was superb in his lone season with the Bruins, averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. A year after UCLA went 15-17 and missed the tournament, Ball led the team to a 31-5 mark and a trip to the Sweet 16.

That made him one of the top players available in this year's draft. But his unique skill set and his outspoken father made him one of the more divisive players this year as well. 

Ball is visionary as a passer and legitimately makes the other players around him better, as Fran Fraschilla of ESPN noted:

Fran Fraschilla @franfraschilla

The more you watch Lonzo Ball, the more you realize how many easy basketballs he created for UCLA. Made the 2 big draft picks look better.

Doug Gottlieb of FS1 further broke down his excellent passing:

Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow

Lonzo Ball snaps the ball when he passes like maybe 5 other people in the sport. Damn I love watching him play

Ad Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com appreciated another aspect of his playmaking ability:

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN

Lonzo Ball. Court vision. Insane.

He's also a blur in transition and rarely makes the wrong decision with the ball in his hands. And he's an effective perimeter shooter, hitting on 41.2 percent of his three-pointers at UCLA.

Add in excellent size for the point guard position—he stands 6'6"—and Ball has the upside of a franchise player.

On the other hand, Ball's weaknesses are just as pronounced. He isn't a great defender, for starters, and was exposed by De'Aaron Fox in UCLA's two matchups against Kentucky this season. Fox combined to score 59 points and distribute 13 assists in the two games while stifling Ball on the other end, holding him to a combined 24 points.

He also has a funky shooting motion, which isn't a factor when Ball has space to get his shot off but could be an issue when he's tightly guarded at the NBA level. Ball isn't as accomplished in the mid-range game or shooting off the dribble.

As Synergy calculated (h/t Derek Bodner of DraftExpress), Ball took just 35 jumpers off the dribble for UCLA, though he did connect on 48.6 percent of them.

Much of that is due to the fact Ball brings the ball up the left side of his body but shoots right-handed. He also has a low release point, though one NBA executive doesn't necessarily believe it will affect him adversely in every scenario, as he told Vice Sports' Sam Vecenie:

"Very few people focus on the ball pick up off the dribble. Steph [Curry] is the best shooter off of the dribble we've ever seen, and it's in large part due to how quick he is picking up the ball. Going to his left—particularly on step-backs—Ball is going to actually be better than most players because of how he brings the ball up on that side of his body.

"Going to his right, I'm not saying he's going to struggle, I'm saying I've never seen him do it. Never. And with the dynamics at play on his shot, that makes sense."

Indeed, another NBA executive suspects that Ball's shooting motion will limit him in some ways.

"He's going to make threes, but he's not going to be the greatest off-the-dribble shooter," he told Vecenie. "There are just certain shots he can't even take. The same thing could be said for anyone, though. It's not like the end-all, be-all."

Generally, however, Ball either facilitates for teammates, takes three-pointers or drives or cuts to the basket on offense. And as long as his shot finds twine, well, it's hard to imagine Ball messing too much with a form that is unorthodox but hardly broken.

Because he has such a specific skill set, Los Angeles is going to have to build around him and create a system that highlights his best traits and hides his worst. But much like he was for UCLA, Ball has the ability to be a transformational talent for the Lakers.

That's high praise. But if Ball improves his defense and adds some versatility to his scoring repertoire, his elite vision and passing will make him one of the NBA's most talented and entertaining young point guards in years.

Ball was always expected to land on the Lakers, and he's basically the perfect player to orchestrate Luke Walton's offense. Ball will allow the Lakers to play fast and attack in transition, and with D'Angelo Russell traded to the Brooklyn Nets, Ball is the immediate starter at point guard.

Greg Beacham @gregbeacham

LaVar Ball uses his ESPN interview to vow that Lonzo will take the Lakers back to the playoffs next season. Sure, why not.

He now finds himself as the future of the franchise, along with Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. While there will be adjustments to be made at the NBA level, Ball should immediately make the Lakers a fun team to watch. And if Paul George is added to the fold via a trade, the Lakers should show substantial improvement next season.