It irked me, along with many Lakers fans, last year, when Lonzo Ball was labeled a bust. For one it’s unfair to call anybody a bust with only one year of being in the NBA. (even Markelle Fultz) Anyone who dared to call him a bust had a notable lack of basketball knowledge, and clearly didn’t look at his play, or probably just took what the critics said and ran with the notion.
People also took what Ball’s father Lavar Ball said as gold. Lavar was saying things like he could beat Micheal Jordan one on one, Lonzo is better than Stephen Curry, and that Lonzo would lead the Lakers into the playoffs in his first year. Comments like this should be a red flag as to how knowledgeable Lavar is when it comes to the sport of basketball. Still, people decided to go with the narrative that Lonzo was going to come into the league and be the next superstar during his very first season.
Lavar tricked people into having an astronomically raised level of expectation. Lavar’s bias clouded his judgment. Lavar was consistently on sports talk shows, news channels, and other outlets talking about how great his son was going to be. It was easy to see why the casual fan may have believed some of his malarkey.
The realistic expectation of Ball is a player who is similar to the likes of a Rajon Rondo; essentially a point guard who can’t shoot. The realistic expectation of Ball coming into the league was to be a high I.Q. point guard, who controlled the game’s pace. Also, he was expected to be an above average rebounding guard and to have stellar court vision and assisting ability.
Ball has a very fast break orientated play style, which is great for this era of basketball. He controls the pace of the game well, he rebounds well for his position and is a great defender. He is an immaculate passer and a consistent low triple-double threat. His ceiling is a bit higher than Rondo’s at his age as he has certain tools that Rondo doesn’t. One of those tools is height. Rondo who was once an all-star in the league and is a mere six foot one, while Ball is six foot six. Combined with his quickness and height, a lot of point guards will have trouble getting by him. He is also a bit more athletic than Rondo.
During his first season, he met all realistic expectations and made it to the all-rookie second team. These reasonable expectations certainly went well below the idea that Lavar Ball had given the public, that is why the casual fan would have called Lonzo Ball a bust. When taking a closer look, people who actually watch basketball knew this wasn’t the case.
Don’t get me wrong there are some things left to be desired when it comes to Ball’s game. The biggest concern has to be his shooting ability or lack thereof. He shot over 40% from three in college while consistently shooting from NBA range. In the NBA he is shooting under 32% from three for his career. In college, he shot the mid to high 60s from the free throw line. In the NBA he is shooting less than 42% from the foul line. This is a very concerning stat, but it is also a very small sample size. He has only played two seasons in the NBA, and only one season in college. According to these numbers his shooting can only improve from here. Even if he never develops a jump shot, if the best he can be is a taller more athletic Rondo, then I’ll take that.
Lonzo Ball is currently a good player with the potential to be great. If he obtains a reliable jump shot he will be undoubtedly become a top 5 point guard in the league. Everyone must remember, players font develop overnight.