LaVar Ball’s Son, Lonzo Struggles in First NBA Summer League Game

Published on: 8th July, 2017


Lonzo Ball shot 2 of 15 in his summer league debut  | read this item

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So, that’s one summer league game in the books for Lonzo Ball, the 19-year old wonderkind from UCLA who was drafted by his hometown Lakers with the second pick in the recent NBA draft.

With his father, LaVar Ball pronouncing his son will become “the best guard ever” with Magic Johnson’s help, the kid struggled mightily in his Las Vegas summer league debut, shooting just 2 of 15 from the floor and seemingly not having an understanding of what to do on the defensive end. 

His father has been hyping the kid steadily throughout the past year, when Lonzo was a one and done freshman at UCLA. Unfortunately, his father’s rantings have changed the son’s adjustment period to NBA life for the simple fact the kid will be stuck with a bullseye, placed figuratively but squarely on his back. 

Long before Lonzo became a Laker, LaVar let the world know his son was going to be drafted by the Lakers, lead them to the NBA championship, win the rookie of the year and most valuable player awards in the same year, and get fitted for his Basketball Hall of Fame bust, if his head didn’t grow too big to fit in the museum or, explode from listening to his father.

Poor kid. Nobody could live up to that hype. And, last night, in Lonzo Ball’s first professional game, a summer league affair against a bunch of youngsters trying out for NBA roster spots to be paid the league’s minimum wage, as opposed to Ball, who has become an overnight multimillionaire and the highest profiling rookie in the NBA, Lonzo looked gonzo.

It’s too soon to make any fair or realistic judgment about Lonzo Ball. He’s playing with and against players who are barely good enough to make the NBA Development League, let alone, The Show. 

But, if you were Magic Johnson, sitting court side and watching his first pick since taking over as president of the Lakers, you aren’t having misgivings about Lonzo but you are thinking the kid needs more work than you thought. The court vision is clearly there. His size advantage at the point guard position will eventually become important. But, make no mistake, Lonzo is a long way off from the kind of impact player who will have a bust in the Hall of Fame.

The poor kid will be scrutinized unfairly, solely because of his narcissistic father. He’s going to be a very good NBA point guard, someday. Maybe even by the spring semester.

I don’t think he has a chance to ever be a very consistent NBA shooter. Jason Kidd, who Ball has been compared to at similar stages of development, became a better shooter later in his career, hitting his shots from deep when he was left wide open and had a couple of ticks to line it up. But, Jason will tell you he wasn’t a shooter, in his best shooting seasons.

I’m guessing this kid, Ball, will knock ’em down (15 ft. and out) in that 30-33% range, this season. Needs tons of work on his release, which is slow. More importantly, Ball doesn’t have the defensive instincts he will need in the NBA to defend opposing point guards. Without a defensive rim protector behind him, all of those times quicker point guards blow by him are going to be crystallized when the games really count.  

Lonzo Ball shot 2 of 15 in his summer league debut

He needs to guard and he needs to let the game come to him instead of forcing it. He’s good. He’s not great. There’s a couple or three guards in this draft who may have a lot more short-term impact than Lonzo does because they’re better scorers than Ball, right now.

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