The NBA Draft is Thursday, which means fans of NBA bottom-feeders have had their Twitter feeds inundated by rumor after rumor after rumor concerning not only their favorite team, but all of the teams slotted to select above them.
Me? I'm a Sixers fan. I've been hearing all about who Boston likes at 1 (hint: it's Markelle Fultz) and who the Lakers are eyeing up at two. Actually, for Philly fans, it's even a bit more complicated than that because there's been talks of trading back (maybe 3 for Sacramento's 5 and 10 so the Kings can land Fox?).
Every year, it's a wild ride. But, if I've learned anything from Sixers Twitter since the famous June 2013 night where Hinkie dealt away Jrue for Nerlens Noel... You can't trust anything leading up to the draft.
Pretend that in your fantasy football draft, you have the third overall pick. All July and August, you're researching, monitoring training camps, looking at rankings - all in preparation for the draft. Why would you, ever, tell the guys who you're looking to take at 3?
I mean, it's ok to throw around some feelers: "I like this guy, I think he's primed for a breakout season," or "This guy's definitely a sleeper." But why would you ever tell your buddy, who has the second overall pick, "I'm taking player X." Then, that guy knows where your head is. He can threaten to take your beloved player X if you don't cough over something else in return.
In the 2013 Draft, Hinkie had the 10th pick. The Magic were picking 11th. Hinkie knew he wanted Dario Saric, the Croatian stretch-4 - but he also knew that the Magic were bullish on Elfrid Payton, the PG from Louisiana-Lafayette. He called Orlando and threatened to keep Payton unless the Magic paid a price.
That price ended up being a 2017 top-11 protected first round pick (which won't convey) and a 2015 second round pick. So, just by playing his cards right, Hinkie got the player he wanted at 10 anyways (Saric) and was gifted a second rounder. All because he knew the Magic were (too) high on Payton.
That is why teams not only try to keep their pre-draft preferences quiet, but they even use media outlets and reports to deceive other teams, especially the ones drafting ahead of them.
Here are a couple examples:
Josh Jackson has been promised - has worked out for Lakers in LA. Has not worked out for Phoenix yet. It could be Philly but likely Lakers.-- John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) June 12, 2017
Hard to evaluate workouts given restrictions. But I'm told Lonzo Ball wasn't in best shape for his Lakers workout https://t.co/JOXyZZv40N-- Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) June 11, 2017
Lonzo to the Lakers makes entirely too much sense. The Lakers don't need another project. They have Randle. They have Ingram. They have D'Angelo Russell, who isn't just a project, but appears to be better off as a 2 guard.
Now, they need the glue to come in and bring it all together. Ball is, by a country mile, the best glue guy in this draft. Not too mention, LA needs a point guard. And Ball is... you guessed it, a point guard.
It's not that I'm egregiously high on Ball - some think he's the next Jason Kidd or Magic Johnson. I'm not willing to even go there. I think his jumper is whack and I'm hesitant to ever call him a 20 a game guy in the league. But he's a hell of a facilitator. I don't think he's a lock at 2 for any other team... but he just makes too much sense in LA.
Of course, the Lakers can't come out and say, "We're taking Lonzo," because even Magic is savvy enough to realize Danny Ainge is picking right above them, and he's had somewhat of a history of luring teams into unforgiving trades. They're wheeling and dealing and angling and telling the media things like "he's maybe, sorta out of shape" and "someone promised Josh Jackson something" and whatever. It's all bullshit.
Lonzo is not only the obvious pick for LA - he's the right pick. No one else makes sense. I will be appalled if the Lakers select anyone else at 2. All of this Twitter fodder is just the Lakers covering their bases and trying to keep their poker face for just another week.