Before he ever played a second in the NBA, Lonzo Ball came into the league with high praise and a lot of talk surrounding him. After leading UCLA to the Elite Eight, via a 31-5 record, and being the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, you can see why there will be a lot of hype surrounding the Big Baller from Chino Hills.
However, after the numerous claims from his father, Lavar, on how he is a better player than Steph Curry, how he will lead the Lakers to 50 wins, and win rookie of the year, Lonzo to this point has not backed up his father’s claims or as Stephen A. Smith likes to say, “cash his fathers checks.”
Through the first 12-games of the season, Lonzo and the Lakers are off to a subpar 5-7 record and are two games behind the pace from last years squad that went 26-56. A lot can be said about the team and how Brandon Ingram still doesn’t look like the next Kevin Durant, Julius Randle hasn’t improved all that much on defense, and most importantly, how Ball is having a hard time scoring at the game’s highest level.
So far, Lonzo is averaging just under nine points a game while shooting an abysmal 29.5% from the field and tacking on seven assists and six rebounds. In addition to the low field goal percentage, Ball is shooting 12-52 for 23.1% behind the arc and just 53.8% from the free throw line. Clearly, it has not been an easy transition in terms of scoring for the acclaimed rookie of the year.
With Lonzo struggling to find his offensive flow in the NBA so far, fans and analysts are starting to become uneasy and use the word bust when describing the reigning summer league MVP. I know fans might be fed up and are already losing faith in him, but my message to Laker Nation and basketball analysts out there is, give the kid some time!
Look at the positives of what this kid has done in the early portion of his NBA career. Every game he has one to two passing plays that make you reminisce about the old showtime Laker days and is a point guard who can and is rebounding the basketball. With that said, he has some big shoes to fill with all the talking his dad has said about him for the past year, but we as fans and the NBA analysts need to give the kid some time and let him ease into the new system and play.
Don’t get me wrong, I was far from a Lonzo Ball fan this past summer (and still am) when it looked as if he’d be drafted by the Lakers, but from the 12 games of tape we have on him, it seems to me the only thing he is having trouble with is scoring the ball. He rebounds, pushes the ball like a point guard should, finds open teammates, defends at a solid level with averaging about a block per game and isn’t turning the ball over.
One thing that is getting overlooked I feel is that he wasn’t much of a scorer in college either. In his 36 games as a Bruin, Lonzo only averaged 14.6 points per game while averaging under 10 shots a game. He’s not accustomed to trying to shoot the ball 20+ times a game like Curry, Damian Lillard, and the reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook do.
If anything, Ball is an old-fashioned guard sort of like Rajon Rondo who looks for the open man rather than look to score the ball. His shooting numbers were much better in college, but at this point, he’s only played a third of NBA games as he did in college. Let’s see how his numbers are after he plays another 24 games.
To me, Lonzo will figure it out. It’s no secret he has one of the most interesting shooting forms of all time and will come together over time. Calling this kid a bust after just 12 games is ridiculous and should be nowhere near that conversation right now. If he were an NFL player and was doing this, then you can make that argument, but in an 82 game season, there is plenty of time for Lonzo (who is only 20-years old) and the Lakers to figure it out and improve throughout the season.