After Lonzo Ball was selected No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in Thursday's NBA draft, his father, LaVar, wasn't shy about proclaiming his belief that the team would make the postseason in 2017-18.
"Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year," the outspoken LaVar told ESPN's Jeff Goodman.
One Las Vegas sportsbook doesn't share his confidence.
On Saturday afternoon, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the Lakers' odds to make next year's postseason, putting the "no" at minus-700 and the "yes" at plus-500. That means a $100 wager on Los Angeles to miss the postseason would win $14.29; a $100 wager on L.A. to make the postseason would win $500.
Minnesota, which acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler in a draft-night deal, opened as a minus-260 favorite to make the postseason (bet $100 to win $38.46) and plus-220 to miss (bet $100 to win $220). The Timberwolves went 31-51 in a disappointing first-year campaign under coach Tom Thibodeau and have the NBA's longest playoff drought, having not made the postseason since 2003-04.
The 76ers now have the past two No. 1 overall picks in Markelle Fultz
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson didn't mince words when asked why the team traded point guard D'Angelo Russell -- the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft -- to the Brooklyn Nets this week.
"D'Angelo is an excellent player," Johnson said Friday when the Lakers introduced their top draft pick, point guard Lonzo Ball, at their practice facility. "He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with."
For the Lakers, the move was essentially a salary dump, as it allowed them to shed Mozgov's hefty salary -- he's entering the second year of a four-year, $64 million deal -- and take on Lopez's expiring contract.
Those moves should give the Lakers close to $60 million in significant cap room next summer -- enough to potentially sign two max-salary players.
Still, it marked a sharp and surprising end to Russell's tenure with the Lakers.
Johnson, however, kept praising the leadership qualities of Ball, whom the Lakers selected No. 2 overall out of UCLA.
"I went to the high school," Johnson said. "I talked to the principal. I talked to, I think, four teachers, they all said at different times, this guy, everybody attracts to this guy. And I said, OK, that's all I needed to hear. He's a leader. He treats people the right way. I said, OK, we've got our man now."
When the organization introduced Ball on Friday at the team's practice facility, Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson called him "the new face of the Lakers, the guy who I think will lead us back to where we want to get to."
Soon after, Johnson told Ball, 19, to look at a nearby wall, where several retired jerseys of Lakers icons are displayed.
"We expect a Ball jersey hanging up there one day," Johnson told Ball.
When asked about Johnson's comment, Ball replied, "I think it's a good goal to set. I'll definitely be chasing that."
Why the high expectations on Ball?
"He has greatness written all over him," Johnson said. "Now he just has to go out and push him, and we will, too. And [Lakers coach] Luke [Walton] and the coaching staff will do the same thing and it's OK, because he receives all that well.
"We're fine. We want expectations. We want to win championships here. We've got to get the right people in place to do that, but we're building every step. I'm not crazy. I know it's going to take time to build and we're building, but when we get the right people in here, we're going to win."
Johnson even referenced the 1980s Showtime Lakers -- a team he led -- when talking about the ball movement that he hopes Ball will bring to the Lakers.
"We want to start building a successful team, and you have to have a great leader," Johnson said, "and somebody that can make their teammates better, somebody who has incredible basketball IQ -- his IQ is off the charts -- and somebody who can get their teammates to follow them and want to get out on that wing like James Worthy
With draft night in the rearview mirror, here's your chance to evaluate the moves the Los Angeles Lakers made Thursday. In his draft report card for every team , ESPN Insider Chad Ford explained why he's a fan of Los Angeles' picks. Are you?
For more coverage of the draft and a recap of all of the picks, check out our Draftcast.