In the first 2 games that Lonzo played, he showed some concerns about aggressiveness and willingness to attack the rim or draw fouls. This allowed for teams to play him to pass and not to score. This affects the whole team as Lonzo has less gravity when he attacks or runs a pick and roll. This all changed in the game against the Sixers as he looked like a completely different player and he gave everyone a glance at a superstar type ceiling.
It wouldn’t be a breakdown of a Summer League game without prefacing by saying that this is a very low talent level kind of environment and success or failure in Summer League will not determine the future of a player. The things that are looked for in Summer League are things that should translate into the NBA and Lonzo had plenty of those in the first 2 games.
This game against the Sixers was incredible fun and the stat line does justice for how awesome he was. He did a lot of things that he was doing before like pushing the ball up the court at any given juncture and moving the ball around.
The main thing he did different was to really attack the rim and get aggressive. He was attacking the rim and going at defenders even though there were shooters open at times. This was something that was worrying as he was constantly playing to pass, but this was a new look for Lonzo. He didn’t stop dribbling when he was attacking just to pass the ball and instead attacked the rim at every chance he could.
The defense then became conscious of his scoring mentality and it allowed for him to get into the paint and draw those defenders like he did at UCLA. Predictability is something that only elite athletes are allowed to be. Lonzo isn’t going to blow past guys or split pick and rolls unexpectedly. That means the defense can’t know what he is going to do.
Defenses knew what he was going to do in the first 2 games. Pick and rolls, dribble drives, and pushes up the court were to set up his teammates and pass the ball to them. This time Lonzo surprised the opposing team and a lot of people watching by attacking with the purpose of scoring points and not just to pass.
It was great to see him add a different light to his game and keep defenses guessing on what he was going to do. Either attack the basketball, shoot a 3, or drive just to kick it out to the shooters. When all of these cylinders are firing, Lonzo is a well oiled machine that can affect the game in so many ways. This kind of dynamic player is really unique since he can score, pass, rebound, play excellent off ball defense, and push the ball in transition and create opportunities.
The scoring part is still rough around the edges due to him being stiff when finishing and struggling to really turn the corner at times. Lonzo still has plenty of work to do, but the play in game against the Sixers showed that he might have a higher ceiling than anticipated.
Lonzo is a master manipulator of the defense, especially when they are scrambled. 2 defenders come to Lonzo and Ball then does a little crossover to get them thinking about him attacking the rim on a drive. He then pulls back as the defenders are now committed to him and Alec Brown was left open for the 3. It was a good read and a good pass out to the shooter. When players collapse on ball, he can take advantage:
There were some doubts about how the Chino Hills type passes would work in the NBA and it turns out they are a hit. Lonzo does an awesome job of getting the rebound and immediately looking up. He sees Kuzma streaking down and he throws a football style pass full-court straight into the hands of Kuzma for some easy 2 points. This is game changing stuff even though it has risks:
In a similar play, Lonzo dribbles up the court looking up and he sees Kuzma streaking again. Kuzma was ready for the pass and he put it up for an easy 2 points. It is a risky passes that was close to being a turnover, but these passes make Lonzo who he is and if anyone is going to hit the target, it is that Ball boy:
This pass is amazing. Incredible really. Lonzo attacked off the dribble and struggled to turn the corner. He was going and then he pushed his defender some to create some space. He peaked quickly to see Kuzma open for the 3 because his defender was going to help on the weak side. The defense collapsed he threw a pass with some ENGLISH and it gave Kuzma a super clean look. Incredible vision:
These are the kind of shots that Lonzo should and needs to take. This comes from defenders playing Lonzo to pass first. He drove and he showed how quick he can be when he gains steam. #5 on the Sixers didn’t step up to help because he wanted to account for his man since Lonzo could be looking to dish it. Easy attempts like this should be attempted:
Ball shows his creativity and improvisation on this play. Lonzo was going to step back and shoot a mid range fadeaway which appears to be an awkward shot for him. Instead, he passes it to the hands of Zubac to set him up for a good shot. He adjusted as he saw a passing lane:
Running and running. The new Lakers do a lot of running up and down the court. Lonzo got the ball and pushed it as soon as he got it. Once he crossed half court, he made his choice and decided to attack the rim. He realized that everyone was scrambling to get their man and it gave Ball the chance to lay it up without any help defense. These shots are created by the pushing and it was showing more of a scoring mentality:
Lonzo has some very quick hands and instincts when it comes to trying to create steals. He does a lot of reaching even when he is guarding someone else. Sometimes he misses, but his quick hands prevail a good amount like it did here. This creates easy offense and more chances to run:
The gather on the his shot was shorter on his shot. He gathered quickly and used the delay from Luwawu because of the screen to shoot a well timed shot. The defender went under the screen and Lonzo made him pay by reading the play well and shooting:
Confidence and aggressive can go a long way for the player. These are the shots Lonzo took a lot at UCLA. He started to feel more confident in his shot and he stopped and pulled up in front of the defender. He did this because ehe saw the defender was dropping down a bit. Lonzo was being aggressive, but he was still being smart about when he was aggressive:
Even when Lonzo was scoring more, the defense was still not guarding him like a scorer. Ball was pushing the ball up the court and he noticed that the defender on him was expecting Lonzo to stop and still kept going. Lonzo went all the way to the rim and drew a foul. It was impressive to see him take it all the way since he doesn’t do it often:
With the defender off balanced, Lonzo attacked the rim and drew an extra defender. Someone was wide open at the 3 point line and Lonzo gave a really fancy over the head pass for the shooter to drain the 3. It was another display of incredible vision:
This play shows the risks of gambling to poke the ball out. Thomas Bryant now has to help on Ball’s man, but Lonzo recovers well and blocks the shot. He has really good timing on block attempts:
This was another smart attack by Lonzo as the defender is shading him right so Lonzo just attacks and lays it up. His first step is not quick, but it is good enough to beat defenders that are off balanced or not in the best position:
Sometimes the gambles that Lonzo does result in steals, like here. He’ll sneak up on someone and poke the ball loose. He should do it less than he does, but its hard to argue with the results that happen when he decides to:
Lonzo does a good job hereof keeping his defender on his hip and shielding the layup attempt with his body. He doesn’t always need to completely turn the corner to score if he can keep his defender on his hip. This aggression wasn’t present early on:
When Lonzo drives, he changes the game on a whole new level. He has his best success when the defense collapses on him in the half-court setting and here is evidence of why he is so great. The gravity Lonzo has when he is rolling is very strong, and it allows for him to drive and kick to shooters like Kuzma. This shot doesn’t happen without his aggressive throughout the game:
With 20 seconds or so left, Lonzo shows so very nice aggressiveness here by getting the Ball and attacking with a spin move and then attacking the rim. He doesn’t shy away from the contact, he welcomes it. He does a little double clutch and successfully gets an AND-1. If Lonzo can carry this balanced mentality of scoring and passing, he should have a fun rookie campaign: