No prospect has had more publicity -- and will continue to get such widespread press -- in the buildup to the 2017 NBA Draft as former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. His game, of course, is the reason for much of that.
But his father, LaVar, is primarily responsible for the exposure. And over the past few months, LaVar Ball's big mouth and tendency for outrageous claims have turned him into as big of a star as his son. Some have argued, for months now, that LaVar's PR-seeking lifestyle could hurt Lonzo in myriad ways, via the draft or come time to play in the NBA.
Lonzo is obviously going to be a target, and LaVar's act is not going to play in the pros.
But despite all of this, Lonzo's talent is still seemingly winning out. As it probably should. Magic Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations, is apparently not dissuaded by LaVar Ball. ESPN's Jeff Goodman asked Johnson if LaVar Ball's behavior would prevent LA from taking Lonzo. Johnson's answer: Not at all.
Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was then asked the same question on ESPN2 and echoed similar sentiments but was more extensive in his view of the Lonzo/LaVar situation.
"Not really, no," McDonough said. "We evaluate the player first and foremost. Every player comes from a different family situation. It seems like LaVar has been extremely involved in Lonzo's career and obviously he's a polarizing guy. But on the court, in terms of development, it seems like it's helped Lonzo. As we try to weigh in all the factors, certainly having a parent who's very involved and cares a lot, we don't view that as a bad thing. It's a little bit different than certain situations but it's certainly that we would not disqualify Lonzo for, or really factor heavily in our decision."
The Lakers have the third-best odds in next week's draft lottery, and the Suns are guaranteed to have a top-five pick, with the odds landing them at No. 2 overall.
Lonzo is a lock to be a top-four pick because his passing ability is truly rare. The dichotomy that's in play that so few see: Lonzo Ball is as soft-spoken and measured as just about any player projected to go in the top 15. It's his skill set, and his unpresuming demeanor, that will stick out with NBA general managers more than LaVar's latest ridiculous quote or shoe idea.
But no matter what NBA general managers say publicly, the LaVar factor is obviously going to be a very real part of the conversation before a final decision is made.