Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball faced serious criticism during his rookie season, but will benefit by playing with LeBron and Rondo in year two
Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball has been on the receiving end of some serious bashing after his rookie season. But did he deserve the heavy criticism? Was it validated and justified?
Coming into the league, Lonzo Ball was already a celebrity – he had his own family reality show, his own (ridiculously overpriced) signature shoe and has the most famous father in America, Lavar Ball. With all the noise off the court it is easy for the NBA fans to get distracted from the fact that Lonzo Ball had a pretty solid rookie season with the Lakers.
He averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game. Only three other rookies in NBA history have managed to put up these numbers – Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Ben Simmons.
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Apparently, after putting up those numbers as a rookie which are clear indicators of being an all-around player, you can still be hated on – if your name is Lonzo Ball.
While it is reasonable to question Ball’s shooting ability, it is ignorant to overlook his all-around game and his impact on the team which may not show up on the box scores. Ball’s sophomore year will be really interesting as a lot of things will be different this season.
For starters, LeBron James will be the main focus of attention and the face of the Lakers franchise. This should relieve pressure off Lonzo Ball as he no longer the “franchise player” of one of the biggest organizations in sports.
That should help Lonzo focus on his game and worry less about all the buzz that goes on off the court. With questions being raised whether LeBron and Lonzo can co-exist and make the Lakers great again, it is up to Lonzo to raise his game at a level which LeBron demands from his teammates. Firstly, he must become a better 3-point shooter.
Throughout his career, LeBron has been at his best when he’s surrounded by quality 3-point shooters. With LeBron driving and kicking the ball out, Lonzo will be getting cleaner looks and he must capitalize. Ball has always been underappreciated on the defensive end. Even with the 6-foot-7 wingspan, nobody expected Ball to be a great defender because he doesn’t come off as the most athletic guy.
Having played 52 games last season, it is clear that Lonzo Ball can guard elite point guards of the NBA. He will block the occasional weak shot and get a few steals now and then. This helps LeBron, whose defense hasn’t been great lately heading into the 16th season of his career.
LeBron will also benefit from Lonzo’s quick decision-making as he can play off the ball and expect Lonzo to set him up at his favorite spots. Remember, Ball averaged seven assists with last years’ Lakers. With LeBron on the same team, that figure could see a steady rise.
The addition of Rajon Rondo to the Lakers means Ball now has a mentor in who is still relevant point guard in the league despite being a non scorer. Rondo is one of the most fierce competitors in the league and he will push Lonzo to be more aggressive. Being a veteran star with championship experience, he’s probably the perfect mentor for Lonzo who will be gearing up for his sophomore season.
Rondo and Ball have a lot in common – pass first mentality, shooting struggles and high basketball IQ. Rondo will have a deep impact on Lonzo’s game this season.
Lonzo Ball is in line to have a breakout sophomore season with the Los Angeles Lakers.