When Lonzo Ball was drafted second overall by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft, many expected him to be one of the building blocks on a young Los Angeles team.
Fast forward two years and Ball finds himself suiting up for the Pelicans at the start of training camp after he was traded from the Lakers, along with Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks, in exchange for Anthony Davis.
Ball grew up in Southern California and went to UCLA, so the move to New Orleans is his first real taste of life outside of the Golden State — and he’s grateful for the opportunity.
“I’m blessed to be here,” Ball said (via The Athletic).
Ball admitted he didn’t “live up to that standard” after being a top draft pick that was expected to turn around a franchise.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted to the first year in LA,” Ball said. “Then LeBron (James) came, all the injuries happened and that really messed up the second year.”
Over time, Ball realized the reality of being traded was becoming more and more evident, especially after Davis made it publicly known he wanted out of New Orleans and preferred Los Angeles as a potential destination.
Ball initially was hesitant about being shipped to the Pelicans, but he soon accepted the opportunity.
“It was only a matter of time before a trade happened,” Ball said. “I pretty much knew a trade would happen. Any time you have a player like Anthony Davis available, I knew it was going to be my time. I was looking forward to it and I was excited for a new start. Getting out of LA for the first time in my life. I’m happy about it.
“I was blessed to stay home and play in front of everybody, but it wasn’t working over there (with the Lakers).”
Along with Ball, Hart, and Ingram, New Orleans welcomes first-round picks Zion Williamson, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker into the fold this season. The Pelicans are looking like they have a strong foundation for the future.
“Our core could be even better here (than in LA),” Ball said. “The sky’s the limit.”