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NBA Draft 2017: Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton debate De’Aaron Fox vs Lonzo Ball for Lakers

It’s still likely Ball gets taken, but Fox has a chance.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs UCLA Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

With the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers pumping the brakes on the Lonzo Ball to Los Angeles hype, it’s clear that Josh Jackson of Kansas and De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky have become two legitimate prospects for the No. 2 overall pick.

With that becoming clear, ESPN experts Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton discussed the likelihood of each player, Ball, Jackson and Fox, being taken with the No. 2 pick.

Both Ford and Pelton still believe that Ball will be taken No. 2, and that the recent reports we’ve been hearing about the Lakers likely not taking Ball are more about the new front office members trying to project confidence and show that LaVar Ball isn’t in charge here.

But the experts also say that it’s not just that; there seems to be a legitimate divide among the organization’s key staff members on who should be taken. And Fox has a fighting chance.

“I still think they lean toward Ball, but I'd put the odds somewhere like this: Ball 40 percent, Jackson 35 percent, Fox 25 percent,” Ford said.

Ford and Pelton also went more in-depth on Fox and why he’s skyrocketed up draft boards since the season’s end. Here’s what Ford had to say.

I understand the current infatuation with Fox. He finished the season with a bang. He has aced every interview he has done -- he makes a strong impression as a person.

Fox brings elite quickness and speed to the game, and leadership on both ends of the court. But his jump shot is a major work in progress, he struggles to go right on drives, and it's unclear how his thin frame will hold up to the daily physicality of the NBA. Those are considerable flaws.

To me, the choice is Ball or Jackson, and if I were drafting today, I'd probably take Ball.

Fox is certainly a work in progress in some aspects, but I wouldn’t count on him failing to develop and turn his weaknesses into strengths. Jumpers can always be improved, and as for his frame, well, he’s working on that already.

Back at it after Pro Day workout #TIWID

A post shared by De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) on

Pelton also has concerns with Fox’s jumper, and favors Ball ahead of both Fox and Jackson. Here’s what he had to say.

My recent story on the importance of the pull-up 3 for NBA point guards sharpened my concerns about Fox. Young point guards with similar difficulty shooting the 3 have tended to disappoint. Basically, a team drafting Fox in the top five is counting on him either figuring out the jumper or being an outlier on the scale of John Wall. I wouldn't be comfortable taking that risk at No. 2 in the draft this year.

While I would do my diligence on Jackson and Fox, to me Ball is clearly far ahead of those two players as prospects. One important thing we've discussed in the past is how much better the chances are of success for a prospect who is in the top 10 of my stats-only projections as well as the top 10 of the draft prospect rankings. Jackson (who ranks 30th in my stats-only projections) and Fox (34th) don't meet that criteria.

It’s clear that Fox at the No. 2 pick is a longshot. But the fact that he’s gotten this far up draft boards since his year ended is pretty incredible, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him climb a little higher and solidify himself as the No. 2 pick.