The Los Angeles Lakers have finished with a losing record in four consecutive seasons, but after drafting Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, general manager Rob Pelinka believes there is a genuine buzz around the franchise.
Of course there is.
“He’s right, but there’s always a buzz around the Lakers,” Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They sold out every game last year when they had one of the worst basketball teams you’ve ever seen in your life. Laker fans are crazy. A lot of them grew up with Showtime and even before that with Jerry West and Wilt, and they feel that if the Lakers aren’t winning, then something’s really wrong with the universe.”
The Lakers haven’t just had losing seasons; they’ve lost 55+ games every year since 2013. Lonzo Ball won’t make the Lakers a contender overnight, but he might help stop the bleeding.
“Having Lonzo Ball, a guy who a lot of people here have seen because he was in high school and then at UCLA for a year, I think that’s really gotten everybody fired up, knowing that he’s a guy that they think people are going to want to play basketball with,” Whicker said. “The fact that Magic is here and he’s been very out front about wanting to go after free agents – they’ve drafted teenagers the last few years trying to come up with a nucleus, and that’s very hard to do because teenagers aren’t ready for the NBA.”
Case in point: Malcolm Brogdon, 24, was named Rookie of the Year.
“Malcolm Brogdon is a mature young man,” Whicker said. “He played at Virginia for four years, and even though he was drafted in the second round, he was the Rookie of the Year in the NBA because he was more ready for it than all these 18-, 19-year-old kids.”
Ball is only 19, but many analysts feel his game will translate well to the NBA.
“Having Ball, who I think everybody feels has what it takes to be a good point guard in the league and then having Magic talk about the possibility of getting a Paul George – they are well set up to do that now,” Whicker said. “I think people feel like they’re in better shape than they’ve been, but I think people are also dreaming they’re going to make the playoffs this year – and if they don’t get Paul George this year, that’s probably not going to happen.”