EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Moments after the Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft, Ball’s outspoken father, LaVar, made a bold proclamation on national television.?
“Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year,” LaVar told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
The Lakers have missed the playoffs for four straight seasons, the longest postseason drought in franchise history, and posted the league’s third-worst record last season at 26-56.
“That’s the goal,” Lonzo said when asked about his father’s comments. “You don’t play to lose. That’s definitely the goal. That’s the plan.”
With his son making the interview rounds in the tunnels of Barclays Center, LaVar excitedly talked about how he had predicted for a long time that his son would go to the Lakers.
“Yes! Yes!” the elder Ball told ESPN not far from where other families and draft picks sat by the stage. “I told you I would speak it into existence. And everybody kept saying what if? What if? I don’t live on what ifs. If I live on what ifs, I will never get to where I am at.
“People always say, ‘LaVar, how come you are always right?’ I say, ‘Because I never get left.'”
When asked about LaVar’s playoffs prediction, Lakers coach Luke Walton smiled.
“I’m a very optimistic person, but I don’t look that far into the future,” Walton said at the team’s practice facility, where a group of season-ticket holders and sponsors gathered for a draft party. “Right now, I’m hoping [Lonzo] leads us to a couple summer league victories, and we’ll take it from there.”?
Walton said he expected LaVar’s comments will, at least initially, apply pressure on Lonzo.
“I think it will make it more challenging, a little bit, but I think every top draft pick that comes in has a target on their back,” Walton said. “The best players in this league want to set the tone with these young players early, to let them know what it’s like here. I know when I was…