Dedicated to the HATRED of all things trOJan


…don’t you mess around with me — Lakers choose UCLA’s Lonzo Ball to be their dream maker, mover-shaker, hope-baker, and curse-breaker, seeking to end their 4-year streak of missing the playoffs, while Indiana picks up two Bruins in T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu in the NBA Draft

If Lonzo were a lozenge-type candy, he’d be a Mentos, because he is now “the fresh-laker.”  On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers did THE RIGHT THING:  They used the 2nd overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft to select Bruin One-and-Done Superstar Lonzo Ball.  The Lakers saw how Ball turned around UCLA the year before, and will hand him the reins to do the same thing in the Staples Center this coming season.

Ball will be the starting Point Guard of the most storied L.A. sports franchise, as the Lakers look to unseat the Clippers as the best team in the City.  With Chris Paul possibly defecting from the Clips next month, this Laker goal is not far-fetched at all.  The way Lonzo’s play-making raises the bar for his teammates and makes all of them instantly more productive, the Lakers just may make Lavar Ball’s prediction of reaching the playoffs this year, a reality.

The Lakers do need one more All-Star caliber PIECE of the puzzle, and they are working on it.  They are trying to engineer a trade for Indiana’s superstar Paul George.  If they get George, the Lakers would, on paper at least, be instant playoff contenders.  Indiana, though, would probably be left outside looking in come postseason play.  Why is this ironic?  Because the Pacers selected the two other BRUINS who got drafted tonight!

Indy took T.J. Leaf with the 18th overall pick, and then grabbed Ike Anigbogu in the second round.  Indy is no longer run by the overrated GM Larry Bird, who resigned during this off season, and it appears that his replacement has a keen eye for talent and potential.  But there is an obvious extra reason why the Pacers would embrace an infusion of Bruins:  Their franchise’s best player ever is UCLA-alum Reggie Miller!

There was one other piece of UCLA-related news during the draft:  FORMER Bruin Jonah Bolden, who played in Westwood for one year before bailing to play “semi-pro” ball last year, also got drafted.  Bolden was taken in the second round, with the 36th overall selection, by Philly.  Surprisingly, that was 11 spots earlier that Anigbogu.  Sure, Bolden is a little more polished Offensively, but Ike seems to have more athleticism around the rim, and should be more of a force inside.  Unfortunately for Ike, he had some knee problems, and that’s the buzz coming from GM interviews:  He dropped to 47 due to concerns about his knee health/durability.

Bryce Alford, who apparently tried out for the Lakers and missed almost all of his shots during the workout, was not drafted.  Maybe he will catch on with a team as a free agent.  And of course, no trojans were selected.  The bad part of that is that a lot of good players from sc who MIGHT have been drafted, decided to return to “school” (I use the term loosely), so their roster will be thoroughly stacked next season.

Getting back to Ball — The Lakers were not done after snatching Ball.  Staying in the Pac-12, they snagged 6′ 10″ Big Man Kyle Kuzma from the Utah Utes.  Then they added a stud shooting guard named Josh Hart, who was integral in Villanova’s recent NCAA dominance.  In the second round they added another big: 6′ 11″ Center Thomas Bryant from Indiana.  I guess he will back up new addition (via trade) Brook Lopez, formerly of Stanford.

I think the key here is Josh Hart.  With ex-trojan basket case Nick Young unlikely to re-sign with the Lakes, Hart might get an opportunity to shine.  And with an elite set-up man like Lonzo feeding him the ball, he may surpass the expectations of a 30th pick.  He knows how to win, and came up clutch in many March Madness contests.  The biggest culture change in L.A. is the MENTAL make-up of this team, getting rid of a major headcase like Young, and a probable chemistry-killer like De’Angelo Russell, and replacing them with hard-working, proven WINNERS like Ball and Hart, who know how to ball with heart.  Maybe this is partially due to input from Magic Johnson, who probably has a low tolerance for troublemakers.

I was a die-hard Laker fan from the 60’s, and loved that they had Bruins like Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson, Lucius Allen, Brad Holland, Tracy Murray, Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, and of course multiple-title holders Jamaal Wilkes and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, enriching their roster over the years.  But when they signed nutjob ex-trojan Nick Young, it was impossible to root for them.  So that’s why you haven’t seen much HERE from me about them recently.  But now, a Lonzo-led Lakers will get plenty of Love.  I predict that he will lift the Lakers markedly, immediately.  If he does, I will be patting myself on the back here all the time.  But, if they continue to suck, there won’t be much purple and gold on the Trojan-Haters Club, especially since the Buss Family has a trojan connection.  But Ball trumps all, so, for now, GO LAKERS!  If only the trade for Paul George could bring Leaf or Ike back to L.A. as well!  I can dream, can’t I?

"DREAM LAKER, LEAF-RAKER, IKE TAKER" was published on June 23rd, 2017 and is listed in Blue & Gold News, UCLA/usc/Sports Photos.

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