Come draft time for the Lakers, they would be faced with a tough decision. Josh Jackson or Lonzo Ball?
The Lakers, holding the #2 pick in the draft are in a good position in this loaded draft class. Assuming Markelle Fultz goes #1, the Lakers have a deep pool of talent available. Some notable players include Josh Jackson, Lonzo Ball, or even De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky.
When the Lakers lucked out and obtained the #2 pick, many were immediately expecting for Lonzo Ball to be their choice. It makes sense, given that Lonzo is an LA kid, went to UCLA, and fits with what the Lakers are doing. However, since then, a new player has emerged as someone that could possibly be taken by the Lakers with their pick. That player is Kansas swingman, Josh Jackson.
His versatility on both ends of the floor, especially on defense is what makes him a great fit for the Lakers as well.
With reports that the Lakers aren’t sold on Lonzo Ball, this could turn out to be a very interesting draft to follow. Do they take the versatile wing or do they take the hometown dynamic PG?
Better fit offensively?
In hindsight, both Lonzo and Josh fit with what the Lakers are trying to do offensively. The Lakers are trying to be as versatile as possible, where most of the lineup can initiate their offense from any set. Their core of D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle have shown that they are capable of doing so, but adding another would help the Lakers even more.
The underrated part of Josh Jackson’s game is his ability to make plays for others. He can also bring the ball up the court and initiate the offense. His athleticism is also a great fit for LA, as they can add a wing that can fill the lane and attack the rim for easy baskets.
Video via DraftExpress
The elite aspect in Lonzo Ball’s game would definitely be his court vision. He is a pure floor general with a knack for finding the open man. He is also a great rebounder meaning he is capable of maintaining the versatile identity of the Lakers. The UCLA PG is also a great finisher at the rim which helps the Lakers get easy buckets.
The tie-breaker between the two in this aspect would be perimeter shooting. The modern league has definitely valued the 3pt shot more, making the three-point shooting almost a must in the league. The edge for shooting goes to Lonzo Ball. In their lone college seasons, Ball shot 41.2% from deep while Jackson shot 37.8% from deep. Lonzo averaged around 5.4 attempts from three while Jackson only averaged 2.6 in Kansas.
Lonzo Ball season long shot chart pic.twitter.com/wzsUEWKFOH
— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) March 20, 2017
Edge offensively: Lonzo Ball
Better fit defensively?
Lonzo Ball on defense has its ups and downs. He’s quick and has good instincts on the defensive end of the floor. However, he has some mechanical errors when defending the ball. Lonzo crosses his feet when following his defender instead of the traditional defensive slide. This causes him to lose his matchup at times.
Josh Jackson, on the other hand, was a very good defender in college. He is more than capable of following his man on the ball and force turnovers. Jackson also has great instincts off the ball where he can get a steal or a block for his team. Josh Jackson’s physicality on the defensive end is a valued trait in today’s NBA.
Edge defensively: Josh Jackson
Assuming that either guy the Lakers draft will be a starter, a key component of determining the best team fit is seeing how a player looks with a lineup. For comparison sake, we’ll use a small ball lineup the Lakers like to use, featuring Larry Nance Jr. at the center position, Randle at the 4, Ingram at the 3, and Russell at either guard position.
If the Lakers decide to take Lonzo with their pick, their starting 5 might look like this: Lonzo-D’Angelo-Ingram-Randle-Nance.
Drafting Ball means sliding Russell to the 2 guard position, where he excelled mightily during the past season. Russell was able to post a career-high of 40 on the defending champs at the 2 guard position and had many other impressive scoring outputs at the SG position. Taking Lonzo also means the Lakers have a true facilitator meaning the scoring outputs could increase for Ingram and Randle as well, as they would have less playmaking duties. Hopefully, on defense, these guys pan out as well. Ingram has shown flashes of being a solid defender, as has Russell based on advanced defensive stats. Nance is one of LA’s best defenders, and one can hope Lonzo’s defense steps up as well.
If the Lakers decide to take Josh Jackson with their pick, the starting 5 might look like this: D’Angelo-Jackson-Ingram-Randle-Nance.
The thing that stands out about this lineup is the defensive potential of the Ingram-Jackson duo. Two long defenders capable of shutting down their counterpart every night. Imagine D’Angelo on the break with either Jackson, Ingram, Nance, or Randle filling up their lanes. Versatile, quick, fun. Spacing, however, might be trouble early on since Jackson is still a streaky shooter, and Randle is not yet at the level of being an effective stretch big.
Both give advantages to their lineup, on either end of the floor. Lonzo boosts the offense, while Jackson gives the defense a boost. Defense is definitely important especially for a team like the Lakers, but having someone to control the pace like Lonzo is equally important.
— shamus (@shamus_clancy) January 3, 2017
Edge with the lineup fit: Tied
Both players definitely seem like great fits for the Lakers on the court. They both give the Lakers a certain level of versatility needed for the modern NBA. Ball gives the Lakers a pure floor general with the ability to space the floor even more. Jackson, on the other hand, gives the Lakers athleticism and versatility, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Ball can make teammates better off the bat with his elite court vision. Josh Jackson helps them on defense and finishing at the rim.
The Lakers can’t go wrong either way but consider this. What better way for the Lakers to be known again as “Showtime” by adding a dynamic PG who plays at a “Showtime” pace? Lonzo Ball has the passing gift that can run a quick team. Magic Johnson himself said that Lonzo reminds him of himself back when he was running the show with this team.
The Lakers could use a PG like Ball to increase the pace on this team, in a league where fast, quick, uptempo basketball is what’s needed to excel. Not to mention that Lonzo himself has expressed a lot of interest in playing for this team. It just makes too much sense for Lonzo and the Lakers.
Lonzo Ball should be the name Adam Silver announces with the Lakers’ #2 overall pick.
*Featured photo credits go to Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports*