Lonzo Anderson Ball–rookie point guard, reality TV star, rapper, Big Baller–will soon step into the bright lights and enormous shadows of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise.
Countless articles have been written, and will be written, about Lonzo Ball, and his father, and his shoes, and his family, and his brothers, and his music videos, and his this, and his that…
However, I have two functional eyes (with contact lenses), and I’ve been watching Lakers basketball for over 25 years. After watching Lonzo in most of the Vegas Summer League games, and reviewing this excellent Lonzo Ball compilation from @Lakerfilmroom, I am greatly encouraged by the Lakers new point guard and looking forward to the Big Baller Brand era of Lakers basketball.
The National Basketball Association is a collection of the most talented, athletic, skilled, and dedicated basketball players on the planet. Each era of NBA basketball has built upon those that came before, with sports technology and player development creating higher standards and smaller talent gaps from player to player. The learning curve has been shortened, with fans, coaches, and talent evaluators expecting players to be NBA ready at 20, and a finished product by 24 years old.
At 19 years old, Lonzo will be expected to step into his starting point guard role and immediately contribute. Fortunately, due to roster construction and the current rebuild, Lonzo’s Lakers will not be expected to win during his rookie season. He will be able to develop chemistry, go through tough games and fight through struggles as he develops and grows. Nevertheless, after watching summer league games and rewatching the tape, I believe Lonzo’s skill set will be exactly what the current roster needs to be successful.
The first thing that becomes apparent when watching Lonzo’s summer league tape is that his court-vision is as good as advertised. While his frequent long range passes seemed to always hit teammates in stride, I was more impressed by his timing. He seemed to orchestrate the offense, especially the fast break, decisively and with excellent anticipation. Whether he was making medium length passes to move the ball behind the defense as it set, or using passes to “move” teammates into the advantageous position, Lonzo seemed to always be calculating the optimal move. In a league where the difference between an open 3 or a steal and dunk the other way comes down to a fraction of a second, teams benefit when the lead ball handler makes quick and efficient decisions.
One thing that I hate to read is comparisons between Lonzo and former Lakers PG D’angelo Russell. This is a lazy comparison because the two players have different styles, functions within the offense, and skill sets. That being said, I see the Lakers performing much better in transition offense this season under Lonzo than in years past. New draft picks Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart will join Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, and a roster teeming with long and athletic prospects. There’s also Bogut, now, I guess. I would be surprised if Lonzo Ball didn’t lead the rookie class in assists, while also putting up respectable efficiency numbers throughout the season.
Ball’s Vegas Summer League alltime record 9.3 assists per game, and consistent solid statistical performances (including a 36-11-8 game) will not be repeatable during this regular season, but I believe 14-8-6 is attainable assuming health and no major roster changes.
My biggest concern moving forward is Lonzo’s shot. While his overall performance in summer league was impressive, he missed a lot of shots. He made 10 of 42 3 point attempts, which is profoundly bad, in case you weren’t sure. Hopefully some more practice with NBA regulation balls and 3 point lines will help improve Ball’s accuracy from deep. If not, defenders will quickly start to sag off of him, and the half court offense will struggle to function.
Overall, I think we have a Big Baller on our hands, Lakers fans.
If you are a Big Baller, follow me for more Lakers stuff on twitter and IG @jerwhitten.