Lonzo Ball officially declared for the NBA Draft following UCLA’s 75-86 loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Considering all of the talk coming from LaVar Ball regarding how his son should be the first pick in the draft since he’s better than Magic Johnson, this comes as little surprise to anybody.

In his freshmen season with the Bruins, Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. UCLA went 31-5 and made it to the Sweet 16 just one year after finishing with an overall record of 15-17 and a Pac-12 record of 6-12. Ball’s point guard skills were huge in elevating his team to this level, helping his draft stock to rise as the season went on.

Ball is practically guaranteed to be a top-3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in May and will likely compete for one of the top selections with Josh Jackson, Markelle Fultz and De’Aaron Fox. While Jackson and Fox still have opportunities to impress scouts in the rest of the tournament, their stocks could rise, pushing Ball further down draft boards.

If given an opportunity to draft Ball, it would be hard to see the Los Angeles Lakers passing up on the young man from Chino Hills, California. Ball’s father has verbally expressed his interest in his son playing for the Lakers under the guidance of Magic Johnson and Luke Walton. Seeing Los Angeles pass on Ball or another team drafting him before the Lakers could would be shocking.

Los Angeles would then be able to give D’Angelo Russell a pass-first point guard who can get him open shots. The Lakers are on the rise and could become a playoff team next year if they are able to nail this year’s draft.

In just one season playing at front of the UCLA faithful, Ball proved himself not to just be one of the best point guards, but one of the best players in college. Many picked him and his Bruins to win the NCAA Tournament, so this loss will surely be a disappointment, but it is just a road block onto the next step for Ball. He’s going to have a great career in the NBA and will greatly help whichever team chooses to draft him.

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