It sometimes feels like they never left, but throughout the last decade the Los Angeles Lakers slipped into the sort of NBA irrelevance usually saved for rebuilding teams in the southeast.
Lonzo Ball was arguably the most hyped up player coming into the NBA since the likes of his own teammate LeBron James, and although last year he performed below expectations I think it is time to hop aboard the Lonzo Ball hype train once again.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard showed flashes of greatness last year in his rookie season, nearly posting a 30-point triple-double in only his second game, but he was truly inconsistent and showed a lack of aggressiveness throughout. Ball was also a streaky shooter, some games he could not buy a bucket and in others, he was red hot.
His performance against the San Antonio Spurs is an example where he sank six threes with two being game-deciding moments in the final minutes of the match.
This season, Ball has remained as an inconsistent player on the offensive side of the court. However, that has not been the case as a defender. He turned in an impressive performance in Saturday night’s clash against the Charlotte Hornets, posting a 16-point triple-double. But what caught my eye was his defensive play.
Ball had the highest +/- in the game at 36 to go along with four steals while holding one of this season’s most elite scorers in Kemba Walker to four points and 2-13 from the field.
In his last two games before Charlotte, Ball locked down two All-Star point guards, holding Chris Paul to shoot 3-10 against the Rockets before yet again having the highest +/- on the court against the Heat while keeping Goran Dragic to seven-points and 3-9 from the field.
As a 6-6 point-guard, Ball has an extreme height advantage at his position, allowing him to guard three positions. Combined with his incredible mind for the game, this gives Ball the serious potential to become an All-NBA defender.
If he can find his consistency and maybe smooth up his jump shot, Ball will cause some issues and can become the player we all hoped for. He is already a proven passer in the game, finishing top eight in assists in his rookie season and being able to develop alongside the likes of LeBron James and with veteran leadership like Tyson Chandler, expect the son of the notorious Lavar Ball to be a valuable player for many years.
Magic Johnson did compare Ball to himself for a reason, and although it is extremely unlikely he will ever become as great as Magic, anywhere close is a hall of fame player. That’s not saying Ball will become a member of the hall, but he has the tools to reach it.