For a Los Angeles Lakers franchise that has lost Kobe Bryant and a historic number of games over the past four seasons, the increasing likelihood that Paul George soon arrives and the possibility that LeBron James eventually joins him is a testament to how the power of the brand holds strong.

The George scenario has been omnipresent for some time, and Cleveland's loss in the 2017 NBA Finals has led Lakers officials to hear more whispers about James' interest in a final chapter in Los Angeles, where his wife would like to live full time, per sources. The Lakers have long known the appreciation James, who grew up a fan of the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, holds for their iconic brand.

The first order of business comes Thursday night, though. That's part of the momentum behind the franchise, too.

Hotshot UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball desperately wants to be drafted by his hometown team, and the Lakers are nearing a final decision to select him with the No. 2 overall pick, according to league sources.

Some final planning and discussion remains to be done before the draft Thursday, per team sources, but Ball logged quality time with Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka in a second predraft meeting Friday.

The Lakers, especially Pelinka, have tried to keep an open mind throughout workouts and interviews to settle on the best player available to them. But an appreciation for Ball's all-around upside has emerged that transcends the local fanfare over him and the constant publicity his father generates. And while athletic Kansas forward Josh Jackson remains a possibility at No. 2, his shooting ability is a concern.

The Lakers' suspicion that Ball might wind up being better than presumptive No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz—and perhaps the Boston Celtics' suspicion that Jackson or Duke forward Jayson Tatum also could be better than Fultz—will make the top of this draft one to be analyzed for years.