At the introductory press conference for second-overall draft pick Lonzo Ball, Johnson placed high expectations for the UCLA point guard, even asking Ball to refrain from breaking at least a couple of the many records that Johnson owns from his Showtime playing days.
"This is insane", Ball said in a phone interview. "I'm happy to be home".
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"D'Angelo is an excellent player", Johnson said Friday, when the Laker introduced their new draft pick Lonzo Ball at their practice facility. A few days earlier, the Lakers without hesitation, traded away D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov in return for Brook Lopez and a late first round pick in Kyle Kuzma from Indiana. This led to a very stagnant offense that struggled to score against solid defensive teams. I think players around the National Basketball Association feel that as well and are going to be attracted to that energy here. And that's a quality and a trait that not many people have. In an effort to dump salary to fit Paul George in, D'Angelo was the casualty of this move and goes to a team which will literally start at ground zero and a place where he can really grow and shine.
He also predicted that Lonzo Ball would lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs his first year.
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The Los Angeles Lakers' rookie is slightly ahead of a couple of Sixers , both of which were taken with the #1 overall pick. The 19-year-old also will get the chance to play against the team that essentially traded him - the Boston Celtics .
The Lakers made it clear during the selection process they were looking for a leader to drive their young players, which include Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac, Julius Randle, Larry Nance, and say Ball can be that leader. "We need two superstar players to come here and join this platform and join our core group of players we now have", he said. They opened as slight favorites to make the postseason at minus-125 (bet $100 to win $80) and plus-105 to miss it (bet $100 to win $105).
When asked if his father might tone it down now that the family dream has been spoken into reality, Ball laughed. Listen, we aren't TMZ so I'm not going to highlight every one of Russell's hiccups in L.A. but Sports Illustrated has you covered here. It's fun to me and I know it's going to be fun here.
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Certainly, this is a risky move by the Lakers but these are the moves the organization needs to make if they want to move toward the top. As a general manager, Pelinka is surely infatuated with the player he just selected - and he wants to promote positive dialogue around the player, which is positive for Pelinka because his job depends upon Ball excelling.
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