NBA Execs Weigh in to NY Post on How LaVar Ball Impacts Lonzo Ball's Draft Stock

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2017

UCLA guard Lonzo Ball, right, walks away after hugging his father, LaVar, following the team's NCAA college basketball game against Washington State, Saturday, March 4, 2017, in Los Angeles. UCLA won 77-68. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Lonzo Ball's father, LaVar Ball, has emerged as an outspoken and controversial figure this past year. Accordingly, a number of NBA executives and front-office personnel spoke with Marc Berman of the New York Post about the impact the elder Ball might have on his son's draft stock.

"According to interviews with a dozen GMs, personnel directors and scouts, LaVar Ball's antics likely won't cause Lonzo to slide past No. 2 in the June 22 draft," Berman wrote. "But some wonder if Lonzo wouldn't be the clear-cut top pick if he didn't come with the baggage his father creates with his series of outlandish statements, including one that struck some as racially insensitive."

Will LaVar be a distraction?

"If you don't play him [Lonzo] the right way, is the father going to say something?" one Western Conference scout wondered. "And you don't want to have him on a big stage like New York. You're always thinking: What's next?"

An Eastern Conference executive added that it would be important for the team that drafted Ball to sit down with both father and son to "set the groundwork" before the season. And a Western Conference personnel director added: "My experience tells me I doubt it [affects his draft stock]. It's an annoyance, a distraction."

NBA executives don't seem to be worried about Lonzo as a player or teammate. He he was superb at UCLA and appeared unaffected or swayed by his father's antics, as one general manager noted:

"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."

While Lonzo Ball was averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game, transforming UCLA's team in the process, his dad continued to find himself in the news.

From saying his son would play for the Los Angeles Lakers in March and would be better than two-time reigning MVP Steph Curry to claiming he himself could beat Michael Jordan in a one-on-one game of basketball, many of LaVar Ball's comments have raised eyebrows.

None were more controversial than the senior Ball saying "You can't win no championship with three white guys because the foot speed is too slow" after UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA tournament. He said the remarks weren't racist in nature.

But LaVar Ball won't be on the court in the NBA or in the locker room. And given Lonzo Ball's elite passing talent, efficient if unorthodox perimeter shooting and calm demeanor, he continues to be considered a top prospect in this year's NBA draft.