Lonzo Ball is not the player the Lakers hoped for

Lonzo started his rookie career by dropping 29 points which were the most pts by a Laker in his 1st or 2nd game of his career since the early 60’s. The all time great Laker, Magic Johnson, netted 26 in his NBA debut. Pretty good company. Lonzo Ball is a wiry 6-6, gangling 195 lb PG who has the ability to hit some ugly 3 pt shots off the dribble, but has struggled with spotting up. His feet are slow and he doesn’t play much defense.  Having that exceptional ability is weird and also kind of remarkable. Sticking spot up jumpers is key to any great player – but we’re seeing this struggle with a lot with young guards – who tend to me more comfortable with the ball in their hands, off the dribble – shooting deep pull-ups.
His big mouth father had been a consistent problem – and put a huge target on his kids back. Who went far and away beyond being a cheer-leading dad – and became his hype man. From a marketing standpoint, his loudmouth approach was attention seeking genius. He was obstructing his sons potential – who came in and screamed to other teams to draft his son, or else. On the turbulent surface, everything about the Lakers’ 2 year PG screamed he was part of a family brand, and not settled in and about a team.
Ball has had an erratic season thus far, putting up 8ppg, 5rpg, dishing 5apg. While having terrible problems with shooting at 38 FG% and a worse 3FG%. While also adding 2 turnovers/game. Lonzo has been very random so far – and had his share of struggles. Lonzo might be a young player who can help to revitalize a sleeping legendary giant in the Lakers with a special gift – his remarkable court vision. With that distinctive edge, his deadly court vision can be something that can be honed. There is a slight bit of “special-ness” that exists in him that truly can’t be denied, by anyone who has watched him play. Lonzo’s game can be a bit too selfless at times. Which is really refreshing to have in this day and age of video game stats, and volume shooters. As he seems to really prefer to pass when on the court rather than score the ball.
Some things that I am still concerned about though – his ball dribbling skills still don’t seem to be quite there – and his collegiate level passes have not always worked and will not continue to work at the NBA level. Ball has been a serious liability on defense with a poor hand placement and bad movement. And can at times, and seems to walk around like he’s a 7 year veteran in the league, at times. And he needs to prove something more than what he has shown so far.
One thing he absolutely brings to the court, is a pretty sweet floater in the lane. Which is a key skill for a player in todays game. Especially from a PG. When Hall of Famer, Steve Nash was in his prime, he was always a side eye threat to stick a deep jumper or drive and hit an “in your face” floater. And he paralyzed defenses with his vision, finding the cutting open man for an uncontested easy shot. Lonzo has these abilities that he can do now – but can he do it on a steady basis? But, nothing about him stands out as being particularly exceptional…still. In an age of incredibly freakish athletes, like future HOFer and teammate, LeBron James – with positional game changers, like Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant – Lonzo simply plays point guard.
Lonzo is a skinny 6-6 which is certainly big enough to see over the outstretched defense but he isn’t imposing to match up with. He can move down the court – but he’s not really blazingly shifty. He has good ball handling skills but not incredibly dexterous enough to consistently tear up defenders off the dribble. I think, over time, Ball will lean into more of a SG, more than a PG – so he doesn’t have to dribble quite as much. And I think he would be better at that alternative position.
Make no mistake about it, Ball is certainly no Magic, he is not Kidd, he is far slower than fellow PG, Rajon Rondo and he was a risky pick to make. Lonzo had arrived with a load of enormous expectations on his slender shoulders – based largely on his fathers running mouth. His overall game is risky but will be able to survive in the league. I am very hesitant to crown him as being the next Kobe or Magic for the Lakers. Lonzo will be a good player – but wont be the legendary ballplayer that the Lakers had hoped for when they grabbed him.
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