The expectation for months has been for Lonzo Ball to be selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and those whispers only intenisfied once his hometown Lakers won the second pick in the lottery. But it looks like he may give the Sixers an opportunity to see him in a workout setting prior to the draft.
Heavy emphasis on “may”. ESPN’s Chris Haynes says it’s very much up in the air at the moment (bold emphasis mine):
Former UCLA Bruins point guard Lonzo Ball is considering working out for the Philadelphia 76ers in advance of the 2017 NBA draft on June 22, league sources told ESPN.
A final decision will be made once Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, and Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo have had an extensive conversation centered on the identity of the team, sources told ESPN.
That dialogue is expected within the coming weeks. Most expect Ball to be off the board after the first two selections.
League sources said the concern regarding the Ball-Sixers link is the organization's plan to feature forward Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, in a ball dominant, point-forward role next season.
Under those basketball circumstances, it wouldn't appear to be an ideal pairing. Ball is a playmaking point guard who figures to need the ball in his hands to maximize his true potential. However, the Sixers believe Ball and Simmons can mesh at a high level, sources say.
The Sixers’ belief in the pairing is not surprising. Pairing Ball with a lead ball-handler who can get into the paint like Simmons is one of the best situations the UCLA product could possibly be in at the next level. One of Ball’s main concerns is his ability to get into the paint, but he was excellent and intelligent off-ball for the Bruins, and a lot of his concerns as a lead guard would not be as troubling if he was in a lower usage role that allowed his playmaking and quick reads to shine.
That said, it seems a tad ridiculous for Ball’s workout with the Sixers to be predicated on whether the franchise can paint a rosy enough picture for him and his agent. The Sixers have very little in the way of backcourt talent on the roster, and he and Simmons would get to run the team together from day one. If playing alongside another talented creator is viewed as a problem, that doesn’t really bode well for team harmony at the next level.
This isn’t a case like we saw with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid over the last couple seasons, where they were all fighting for one position. Simmons and Ball could easily coexist on the court. It’s a bit of an eyebrow raiser for the team’s style of play to be called into question, when their uptempo offense appears to be a perfect match for Ball.
Ultimately they might not even have the chance to draft him, but given that the Ball camp decided not to have Lonzo work out for the Celtics, this is worth keeping an eye on for several reasons.