Lonzo Ball was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the second pick in this year’s draft to be the savior of the franchise, but he may be more than just the Lakers’ savior. Ball will bring something that the NBA hasn’t seen much of in a while: a pass-first style at point guard. He is a playmaker when on the court and is always looking to get his teammates involved before himself.
In today’s NBA, point guards seem to play a more score-first style of play where they are either shooting a large number of jump shots or driving to the hoop on a consistent basis. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that style of play and plenty of guys are having success in the NBA playing like that, but I’m just saying that Ball’s ability to pass and to create opportunities for his teammates will only change the NBA for the better.
The last four seasons have been tough for the Lakers as they’ve finished 14th in the Western Conference three times and 15th in the west in 2015-2016, when they only won 17 games. The Lakers thought they had their savior at point guard when they selected guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 draft, but they recently traded him to the Brooklyn Nets. Lonzo Ball fell into their laps in this years draft though and seems to be the solution to the teams point guard problems.
In his lone season at UCLA he averaged 14.6 points, 6 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. Lonzo was 1st in minutes played in the PAC-12 and led the entire NCAA in assists per game and in total assists with 274. The biggest stat that stands out during his time at UCLA is the assists and his ability to make his teammates better.
The video really displays his ability to make plays for himself which sets up plays for his teammates around him. That’s something the Lakers have been looking for and will only help improve the team. In Summer League Ball already showed some great chemistry with Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, both of whom will be big players on the Lakers next year.
One thing to watch next year is how Ball plays with newly acquired guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. Ball will give guys like KCP and Clarkson the open shots they need and will give Nance Jr. and Randle great looks down low. You can bet you’ll see some highlight reel connections between Ball and Nance Jr. because of how good a dunker Nance Jr. is.
The Lakers were 24th in the NBA last season in terms of assists per game and were ranked 17th in total offense. Ball will only help that go up as he was the leader of a UCLA team that finished 2nd in the NCAA in total offense last season averaging 89.8 points per game.
He put on a show at summer league and brought hype that the summer league really hasn’t seen before. In a Fox 5 Vegas article they described how far the Las Vegas Summer League has come.
“127,843 fans attended the Summer League games at the Thomas and Mack Center in the last week and a half. That beat the previous record for attendance set last year at 108,931 people. The 2017 Summer League also set the single-day attendance record with a 17,500 fan sellout on the second day of the tournament. “
Ball brought home the summer league MVP after averaging 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists per game in six games played. Lakers coach Luke Walton had to like what he saw from him in his first real game action after all of the offseason hype that was brought on him by his dad Lavar Ball. It showed that he can handle all the pressure and that he leaves all of the other stuff at the door when he steps on the basketball court. That’s the type of guy the Lakers need, a guy who can handle the bright lights and shut everything out when he’s on the court.
Playing at such a big school in UCLA and playing on one of the biggest stages in the NCAA tournament will only help Ball next season. The Lakers are starting to build something great and are hoping to get back to being one of the powerhouses in the west like they once were. Lonzo Ball is a big piece of that puzzle as they hope he’s going to be the leader of the team for years and years to come. Next season will be a big first step for the team because if Lonzo and the team show improvement then they should be able to lure some of the big free agents during next summer’s free agency.
Paul George and LeBron James are going to want to see what Lonzo plays like at the NBA level before they even commit to listening to what the Lakers have to offer. Building relationships and skills on the court with guys already on the team will only better the team in the long term in hope that they can land one of those big fish next summer.
Summer league already gave us a sneak peak of Lonzo in a Lakers jersey and the hype he brought with it was tremendous. The Lakers have been bottom feeders in the west the past four seasons and can only go up from where they are now. Lonzo was drafted to do that and will only do good for the team moving forward. His passing ability will take the league by storm and will instantly make the Lakers must see TV. With the full court touchdown passes, the half court alley-oops, the behind the back passes for open three’s, and the occasional coast to coast dunk, Lonzo is going to be an instant playmaker in the NBA.
Hopefully Lonzo’s playmaking and ability on the court will mean the Lakers record will improve as well. As tough as the west is it’ll be difficult for the Lakers to make the postseason next year, but as long as the team shows improvement that’s a start. A finish in the top 10 in the west will give Laker nation hope going forward and will be a good first stepping stone to take into the summer of 2018. Lonzo’s play will help them achieve that first step and will make the Lakers better, which all in all will make the NBA better.