“It’s already a done deal. I got the trophy already.” a boisterous Lavar Ball stated when asked if his son Lonzo Ball would win the Rookie of the Year award.
Well, if we based the winner of the award off of the first game of the season Lonzo wouldn’t even have come close. Ball’s debut on Thursday consisted of 3 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 1 steal on 1 of 6 shooting in 29 minutes. From tip-off Patrick Beverley showed why he made 1st Team All-Defense last season by applying pressure to Lonzo from baseline to baseline. With only 5 minutes into the game, Lonzo was knocked down by Beverley and it was more than obvious that Lonzo was irritated by the pest-like defense Beverley displayed. From there on, flashes of Ball’s potential as a passer, rebounder, and defender appeared throughout the game although his ability to score has yet to translate. Overall, I would say he played a decent game but the fact that there hasn’t been this much hype built around a player since Lebron James mixed with the terrible team loss by the Lakers made it seem like he had a terrible game.
Lonzo had a similar outing to his first game in the NBA Summer League in which he bounced back to lead the Lakers to be this year’s Summer League Champions while winning MVP honors for the tournament. Now, I realize the actual NBA season has no correlation with the Summer League in terms of competition but the point at hand is Lonzo is just beginning to get his feet wet. As a rookie that now has to adapt to the lifestyle of an NBA player he will have both good and bad games as most rookies do.
On Friday, Ball bounced back the same way he did in the Summer League finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists leading the Lakers to a win against the Phoenix Suns. It was the type of performance that illustrates why the Lakers took him with the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft and have been hyping him up to be the new face of the team throughout the summer. With about 3 minutes left in the game, the Suns had brought the Lakers’ lead down to three before Lonzo scored six of the Lakers’ next eight points. The other two points came from Kyle Kuzma from an assist from Ball. You could tell Lonzo was more comfortable and locked in during this game compared to when he was being heckled by Patrick Beverley. I know some people are thinking “He played the Suns, it’s not like it’s against a great defensive team,” although regardless of who it was against, he was playing NBA talent nonetheless.
The next step from here for Lonzo is to learn from these last two games and use it to help him as he moves forward to work towards a successful season with the team as well as individually. If Ball continues to manifest numbers like he did on Friday and attach them to wins, the future is more than bright for the Lakers and their aspirations of hoisting more championship banners to the top of Staples Center.