Lonzo Ball: Just Getting Started

After just four seasons into his young NBA career, Lonzo Ball is just getting started.

Mars Robinson
SportsRaid

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Created by Mars Robinson

We were introduced to Lonzo Ball in what feels like a long time ago, but it hasn’t. Zo is only 24 and has just completed his fourth NBA season (two in LA, two in NO). He’s steadily improved his game — dating back to when his jump shot covered most of his face. He’s continued to improve as a passer — which seems to come naturally to the “Ball” family. His father, LaVar made it clear to everyone that Zo would make the NBA look easy, but I think it’s been more important for Lonzo to play his game and be the best player he can be. So far, it’s been working.

Because of all the “takes” from LaVar, it made fans and the media “attempt” to rush Lonzo and his development. Not allowing him to make mistakes as a young player without receiving unnecessary hate. LaVar pretty much talked then Lakers team president, Magic Johnson into drafting Lonzo with the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, setting Zo up with the chance to remain at home.

Lonzo “wowed” us with his skills in the Summer League that year, leading the Lakers to a Summer League title. But it would be his shooting struggles that would concern us. Lonzo shot only 36% from the field, and only 30% from three his rookie season. This is the same player who shot 55% from the field, and 41% from three his lone season at UCLA.

Growing up playing against his father, brothers, and teammates, it’s obvious that Lonzo never lacked confidence in his ability to be great. Being the star PG at Chino Hills also played a huge part in the now Bulls PG confidence because they always found themselves playing tough opponents. Of course, making the jump from college to the NBA is never easy, and rookies struggling to find their way and make an immediate impact isn’t new.

For Lonzo, transitioning into his second season wouldn’t be any easier as the Lakers would add LeBron James to the roster. As we know, playing with any player on the level of LeBron can wreak havoc on the nerves. Lonzo would be no different as he saw his points per game average dip, along with his free throw percentage, and overall shot attempts. Zo’s confidence would continue to dip, and nagging injuries would have him in and out of the lineup.

After LA traded Lonzo to the Pelicans, we saw him begin to improve on what was a rocky first two seasons. He regained his confidence in his shot — thanks to a new form and as a result, he shot 37% from three on 6.3 attempts. From year one in New Orleans to year two, he raised his free throw percentage from 56% to 78%. This is a major difference from his time in LA where he shot only 43% from the charity stripe.

One thing we as fans get on Lonzo about is his “passiveness”, as we believe he should be the aggressive scorer he was in high school and college. Although that may be true, I think being in Chicago next to Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan will help him more as a facilitator. After Zo’s rookie season, the media compared his rookie numbers (10.2 PPG, 7.2 APG & 6.9 RPG) to NBA Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd’s rookie numbers (11.7 PPG, 7.7 APG & 5.4 RPG).

Now I’m not saying that Lonzo Ball will go down as “the next Jason Kidd”, but I do believe that he can take on that role in Chicago next to two great scorers as Kidd did. The 2004-05 New Jersey Nets were led by Kidd (14.1 PPG, 8.1 APG & 7.2 RPG) who played alongside Richard Jefferson (19.5 PPG) and then newly acquired guard, Vince Carter (25.4 PPG). I believe the Bulls can replicate this success as Lavine and DeMar are both highly skilled scorers, and Lonzo is a natural-born passer with the ability to get hot if his shot is falling.

I’m more than confident that next season will be Lonzo’s best season yet as Chicago will allow him to be himself, and play his game to the best of his abilities.

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Mars Robinson
SportsRaid

Freelance NBA writer and host of “The No Bias Podcast” Twitter: @marsjoint @nobiaspod