So, Maybe this Lonzo Ball Guy is Pretty Good

Darius Soriano —  July 12, 2017

After a rough first outing that saw him shoot poorly (though make good decisions overall) and then bounce back with a triple double in his second game, things were looking up for Lonzo Ball in Las Vegas. Then, a sore groin kept him out of a game against the Kings and De’Aaron Fox, which prompted critiques and calls of him “ducking the fade” coming to him from the former Kentucky guard who dropped a boatload of points on the Bruins in the NCAA tourney.

So, it seemed like whatever progress Ball made had been reeled back in. That narrative got flipped on its head Wednesday night, though. Rocking a purple pair of Kobe AD’s instead of his own BBB kicks, Lonzo came out and played the game fans and critics alike were wanting to see from him.

36 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, and two blocks. He hit 12 of his 22 shots, got to the rim in the half court, and dominated the transition game with full court attacks off the bounce and via outlet passes to streaking teammates. This was the guy the Lakers drafted #2 overall. He was glorious.

As I wrote before summer league began, I don’t put too much weight on stats in summer league; it’s more about whether a guy passes a certain eye test. What’s his decision making like? Does he get to spots on the floor? Is he playing team ball and making the extra pass? Is he able to turn it on in a key moment? Ball is checking off these boxes and (at least in the last couple of games) he’s getting numbers too.

Further, there’s an electricity about him and it’s driving interest and commentary in a way which, honestly, isn’t really normal. After the game, fans and media alike (and even LeBron James) took note of him wearing Kobe’s shoe and then exploding for as many points as he did. When you watch the highlights above, listen to the crowd respond to his passes or how the announcers react to the plays that he’s making. He’s carrying a buzz with him that simply doesn’t come around very often. Maybe it’s the marketing machine and his father’s proclamations, but it wouldn’t mean much if he wasn’t able to show it on the court.

And Wednesday night he did just that. Many who fully believed in Lonzo heading into and coming out of the draft surely knew this was possible, but many more who didn’t were on the fence about whether or not this kid could really play. Well, dime by dime, those people are starting to get converted too. Even if it’s just summer league. Lonzo is passing the ball and the eye test and it’s great to see.

Darius Soriano

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to So, Maybe this Lonzo Ball Guy is Pretty Good

  1. Joshua Middleton July 12, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Hopefully a preview of the next 20 seasons yet again! Go LAKERS!


  2. Lonzo really knows how to Ball.


  3. Lonzo is a more athletic Ricky Rubio, which is high praise considering him & KG are the only former Wolves player with a positive net rating cumulatively over the past 10 seasons.

    His regular stats may fluctuate in the reg season but trust me, advanced stats will love Ball once they get a big enough sample size. If Rubio made Nikola Pelovic into a 20-10 machine, i wonder what Lonzo can turn Randle into ?


  4. That was something else… the most fun i have seeing a Laker game in seems like forever, Summer League or not. The kid is going to be really good. How good i don’t know for sure but i can say this, with the big team he’s going to make a ton of assists. I dare to say he’s going to average more than 10 a game. His passing is THAT good. And the best part for me is that he wont have to shoot 22 times a game. He’s going to get his teammates so many easy buckets is scary. He might struggle with his shot early on as a rookie but the elite court vision and passing skills are going to be there. He’s faster and more athletic than he was given credit for and he’s not DAR level bad on defense. And like Darius said, there is something about this kid.This season is going to be a lot of fun.GO LAKERS!!!


    • Tristan Icari July 13, 2017 at 8:12 am

      With KCP as his running mate, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about his defense.


  5. His improvement from game to game has been exponential. He might be more ready to the NBA level than we think…


  6. All the elements of a Disney movie. No Nwaba, no Hart, no Ingram–no problem.

    They’re already coming to Las Vegas–and it’s just summer league.

    What’s it gonna be like next year at Staples?


  7. What you saw was the difference between Lao and Flo. He dominated but got everyone involved those 11 assists to go along with the points rebounds and steals solid evidence of someone special. You can’t teach or coach IQ. It’s something you either have or dont. What i loved most were his post game comments sharing credit and making it about the team and the win not just about him. No points 6 assists in the 1st quarter, then he was kobesque. We got us a “goodun”.


  8. The best thing was seeing him drive to the rim. However, it was against who? A quick glance at a shot chart shows everything either came at the rim or was a 3 point shot (3 for 10). My biggest concern is when an opposing team looks at tape and is determined to break up the Lonzo formula can Lonzo counter? I do like the full court spot on baseball passes though. Pretty amazing to see.


  9. The exciting part is that it’s clear thru watching all the UCLA games and the first 3 summer league games, Lonzo will be a special player. He had the perfect blend of controlling pace, attacking to score, and making the right passes. Every. Single. Time. On break or half court.

    While other stars can “get theirs” with high usage rates and look great doing it (ala Tatum, Fultz etc), their assists are just happenstance due to their volume. I get the feeling that Lonzo’ s usage rate being high will be vital to the Lakers offense. Even in games where he has 8 points, the offense will be more efficient and still humming.

    Lonzo doesn’t just pass to the open guy, he passes you open too. Like Worthy said on TV, he’s like a QB and also reads the D. Not just as a snapshot, but one or two steps ahead.

    Still, I know it’s summer league but isn’t it still a good sign? Its all about development. I get the feeling by the end of the year, we won’t be talking about Fox. We want prime Kidd and not Lou Williams 🙂


  10. I’m gonna say this into existence. Lonzo will not only break Brodie’s record but he will do it before he reach 25 y/o


  11. It will be very interesting to see how the young lakers respond tonite in what should be a important game to them and us.This can be a model of what the grueling NBA schedule brings.Winning is important here again and I see this as a test of mental toughness when you have to use your brain to execute the fundamental game plan and reduce errors,to give yourselves a chance to win.This could be BIG and I’m dusting the TV today and gettin my snacks early.


  12. Clay Bertrand July 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Playoffs (in Summer League) Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Summer League is what it is but STILL, I echo Fern in saying it was as fun and exciting of a Laker game as I have seen in awhile. Pathetic perhaps, but true.

    Honestly though, when Lonzo was sputtering some in the first quarter with his offense and he got into the lane for a left handed “floater”, it was so bad I started to think he might really be in over his head. I mean, the shot looked horrendous—like he just threw the ball at the basket with his left hand. It was the kind of mid range shot people say he cannot really convert.

    At this point, his offensive impotence had me wondering if he really was just a Kendall Marshall type with a fear of shooting and missing. I wondered if he was really just an assist hunter passing all the time to cover his offensive weaknesses. Then he shot a couple of threes—-and GAWD they were terribly bad. I mean cringe worthy.

    After he left the game and re-entered, he seemed like a different guy!!! Especially in the second half, he seemed to be like, “We are WINNING this game damn it. If I gotta score more, SO BE IT.” It was impressive to see the BALLS this kid has shooting threes when he has missed so many so badly. It reminded me a little bit of Kobe’s Famous Airball barrage against Utah in the playoffs. We all know Kobe didn’t shy away from shooting after that experience.

    Will there be growing pains and some ugly shooting lines??? I expect there will be. But no other player (at least from this draft class) can do what Ball can do. What’s more, NO OTHER PLAYER CAN EVEN BE TAUGHT to do what Ball can do. THAT is the special part. The natural instinct and the drive coupled with the humility will draw people to him.

    Back in the day when Magic played, he was so good, when he was hurt, it was like the Lakers couldn’t even function. He was SO integral and so much the motor that ran that team that when he was out, it was a completely different picture.

    I remember when I was a kid watching with my Dad and Magic would go down in clutching his knee after a play and writhing in pain (Magic always looked like he was ABSOLUTELY DYING when he would go down—for reference, picture a Soccer Player Flop times 50–dramatic agony abound) my Dad would say, “Well, there go the Lakers…..They can’t do anything without Magic.” And I would just freak out almost hysterically despondent until Magic got to his feet and eventually kept playing. (NOTE: This was after Magic’s major knee injury—we all feared another).

    And it was pretty much true too. No Magic—No Lakers. No offense to THE GREAT CARUSO, but when Lonzo Ball exits the game, the JUICE is gone. The team isn’t close to the same. The Buzz is gone, the pace is gone, the swagger is gone and the Team’s RPMs drop significantly it seems.

    Ball isn’t Magic but I can see him becoming just as vital. Nice game save for the turnovers.

    IMO, Vander Blue is, as was mentioned yesterday, Jabari Brown 2.0. Wild crashing suicidal drives to the rim and an ugly over efforted 3 pt shots coupled with a score first mentality for a somewhat undersized 2 guard is why he won’t stick at the NBA level. To me, he is better served to go the Marbury route in China. Make some money.

    Let’s Kick Dan Gilbert’s A$$ tonight Summer League Style!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  13. As noted, it was a summer league game, against questionable competition and while he still did not display a meaningful mid-range game, Lonzo’s performance was meaningful on a number of levels. It showed not only a willingness but the actual ability to take over a game while still being inclusive of his teammates. Additionally, Ball showed that he can drive and finish as opposed to just driving and kicking–out.

    But maybe more importantly, combined with Ingram’s first summer league game results (26 pts) — it showed that the two players most important to the Lakers turning the corner and becoming attractive to star free agents have more than the potential to be good — they are demonstrating that ability on the floor.

    I have heard from more than one analyst that Ingram and Ball’s progress this year are critical to the Lakers free agent efforts in the Summer of 2018 and beyond. Established stars want to get paid, they want to win and they don’t want to have to do all the heavy lifting. The Lakers will have the cap room and Ingram/Ball have showed they can carry some weight. With the addition of KCP let’s see how much progress the Lakers make towards winning this year.


  14. Ball and Ingram can have a contest to see who has the longest stride going to the basket. The difference is that Ingram’s last step launches him up like a high jumper and Ball’s launches him forward like a long jumper. Ingram has spectacular dunks and Ball makes use of the backboard for layups with either hand.

    You can see Ball’s teammates are getting used to his passes. Hands are often in receiving position giving Ball a target he rarely misses.


  15. Summer league or not, Lonzo is the real deal.

    Combined with the changes we have made in the front office and coaching staff, looks like we have finally turned a corner, and are back on the path to greatness.

    On a side note, it was interesting to say the least, to see Lebron Scouting Lonzo.


  16. Rick in Seattle July 13, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I’m curious. Are the Lakers rebuilding around a young core, or are they preparing for a significant free agency opportunity next summer? These two directions are, in many ways, polar opposites.

    If its the former, then I can see keeping long term contracts to build around, because it will take time to develop young players, and veteran mentors like Deng may be helpful in that effort.

    If it’s the later, then one might assume that the team will eventually focus on trying to trade the remaining large multi-year contracts (like those of Deng & Clarkson), in order to add to the teams ongoing efforts to have maximum cap space for 2018–efforts that are already in place.

    And, please don’t try to be a fence-sitter and tell me that the Lakers FO can do both. Talking & chewing gum is one thing, but the two choices mentioned are,in many ways, mutually exclusive.

    While the Deng contract is clearly not a long-term core piece, the Clarkson contract may be, but the jury is probably still out on that question. But, there is a reasonable argument to be made that the money currently being paid to Clarkson is excessive for a 1-dimentional reserve guard.

    So, to rephrase the question, “Are the Lakers rebuilding around a young core, or are they preparing for and anticipating a large free agency windfall next summer?”

    I think the Lakers FO needs to make up their mind, or at least get their story straight.
    Unfortunately, its more likely that we will determine their direction through their actions.

    In college football, an option quarterback can wait until the last second to pitch out, throw a pass, or run the ball himself.

    But, in constructing a basketball team (or any team), there has to be a plan in place. So, again, we are just asking, “what is the Lakers real plan”? Is it to build & develop around a core of young, yet unproven, professionals;

    Or does the Lakers front office have in mind the construction of a super team of all-star players via 2018 free agency—similar to what Miami did a few years ago with Lebron, Bosh & Wade?

    Seems to me they must, at some point, decide their eventual course. Decisions need to be made, and unlike an option quarterback, you cannot wait until the last second.


    • The Lakers FO is gearing up for a big free agent run next summer. No doubt about it.

      Trading DAR to grease the dumping of Mozgov’s deal for an expiring contract was a tell-tale sign that the Lakers are after cap space to land multiple star free agents next off-season.

      They are banking on their young and capable core to attract star free agents.


      • Rick in Seattle July 13, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        Not sure that Deng & Clarkson are part of that young & capable core you are talking about.
        But its clear that these two bloated, long-term contracts will certainly (if not dealt with before next summer), further restrict the Lakers free agency efforts in 2018.

        I would argue that neither player has any critical importance as part of the future core.
        Clarkson is a 1-dimentional overpaid reserve guard who (at best) may someday become a Lou Williams-like 6th man of the year prospect, IF he continues to improve.

        Deng on the other hand is a former all-star (one season), but at his age (soon to be 32) is in decline and has little to offer, particularly at the cost of $18 mil per year.

        Therefore, my question again is why the Lakers front office is not making an all-out effort to move Deng or Clarkson or both? Clarkson does have trade value and could probably be traded tomorrow for a decent expiring contract,and/or a future draft pick.

        Deng obviously is another story. But, as we saw with Mozgov, there are teams out there that are willing to take on such players in trade, if additional compensation is included.

        With various teams putting together their rosters right now, this would seem to be an excellent time to pursue such a course.

        So, again, the question must be asked, “IF free agency is the true goal of the front office, then why is there no apparent effort to try to move these two contracts?

        To me, this seems like a missed opportunity.


        • Clarkson is not enough to move Deng and I think the FO would like to keep Randle for now.


    • I think that the Lakers have decided to build around a Lonzo ball concept, blending an emerging young core with established veterans–as they come available. The key to making this work is to have as much flexibility as possible with roster players. The biggest immediate obstacles to this flexibility, IMO, are the salary structures of Deng, Clarkston, and Randle. Deng and Clarkston, because substantial percentages of the total cap are committed to them for three more years; Randle, because he will soon be eligible for both a substantial salary increase, and a multiyear contract.

      The Mozgov/Russell trade for Lopez/draft pick suggests how this flexible approach plays out. Lopez is a clear upgrade over Mozgov without the three year commitment; Hart and Kuzma are (not too young) candidates for the young core and tradeable assets at the same time.

      Flexibility could be needed, or further developed, at any time.

      The Lakers could, hypothetically, be part of a three team trade with the Nicks and Cleveland that could eliminate several of these encumbered contracts and obtain Kevin Love in the next days or weeks; trade with Oklahoma City for Paul George if the partnership with Russell Westbrook fails to work out; trade with the Pelicans for Boogie by the trade deadline if that partnership falters


      Have enough flexibility to make several acquisitions during 2018 free agency.


      Sign one or more short term contract members of the Lakers roster to multi-year contracts, like Lopez of TCP before they are lost to free agency.


      Some other possibility that hasn’t come up yet.

      Within their vision, the Lakers need to be able to constructively move with the flow in a changing landscape.


      • Rick in Seattle July 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

        Regarding your comment about the hypothetical 3-team trade, Carmello appears ready to move to Houston, so that takes away the Knicks biggest trade asset, except for the various parts that are coming back from Houston or Milwaukee. .

        If Lakers got involved, I don’t see either Cleveland or NY taking Deng, NY has their own bad contracts to deal with.

        Would the Lakers sacrifice their 2018 cap space to take on Love’s remaining contract, particularly if Lebron is really coming to the Lakers next summer. Probably not.

        Therefore, I just don’t see anything in this hypothetical that helps the Lakers get rid of Deng or Clarkson. Atlanta, possible. Phoenix possible. New Orleans possible.

        While I like Love and think he could be a decent fit in Waltons offense, it would remove other free agent opportunities. Let’s keep exploring, perhaps there is something better out there.


        • Patience.

          I wouldn’t bet on that Houston Melo trade, and I certainly wouldn’t bet on any specific superstar to come in 2018–not even PG. I personally hope it wouldn’t include Labron.

          Until June/July (2018), there will be plenty of trade possibilities for us to consider before we sign any free agent.



      • No to Love. There was a time when I would have said yes, but not now. Kevin is not the rebounding beast he once was and his defense and mobility were never his strong suits. I group him in the same category as Blake Griffin, 28 year olds that seem much older than their ages. They are not ascending they are declining performers.


    • Lonzo and Ingram are keepers, everyone else on the team is the definition of NBA expendable, especially if it means Lebron and PG next year.


      • If we have a legit chance at LeBron next year, then everyone’s expendable.


        • Wouldnt want an ageing lebron in our team even if it was at a reduced cost. Much less trade our future for a year or two at best of a declining star.


        • That concerns me. Blowing up the team for a 35 year old Lebron and a 2 year run. For Cleveland, that risk was worth it. I’d rather the Lakers build a sustained foundation around Ball and Ingram.


    • TheNumberOfFlopsIsTooDamnHigh July 13, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Great way of boiling down the question. The thing is though, even if the FO is entirely focusing on a big 2018 Free agency splash, they will need to up the quality of the team as well as the number of wins now. Not even the most idiotic bandwagon fan is really going to believe that a 26 win team will win a ring just one season later (i hope), and not one elite free agent is going to expect a 26 win ball club to compete for a title all of a sudden just because it will sign him.

      Hence, a combination of steps in seemingly different directions is needed for either part of the strategy to work out…


  17. TempleOfJamesWorthy July 13, 2017 at 10:51 am

    I was unable to watch Lonzo’s earlier Summer League games, but I caught the game against the Sixers.

    I’d say Lonzo doesn’t quite live up to the hype…either positive or negative.

    He clearly has a few things to work on (tightening his ball handling, finishing through contact, more consistent defense, etc.) but his play was still solid enough to make some of the criticisms seem overblown.

    I’m excited to see what Ball can do with more experience and a better team structure than is possible in Summer League.


    • I can’t fathom, where the “Lonzo doesn’t quite live up to the hype” on the positive end. He surpasses it !


  18. Now that’s the Lonzo Ball I know!!!!


  19. Iv’e heard enough of this anti Clarkson shallow Crap If the FO would have let him walk you obvious pro talent scouts would have been crying the loudest for letting our best player at the time go.I argue with you about Clarkson being a 1 way player, All of our players have been junk defensively, But you guys rail on our hardest working and loyal Laker JC. You guys are sharks that have your noses so absoarbed in the free agent blood trail, That you would cut the whole team loose just to get a glimpse of Lebron on the back cover of SI. He’s old and his skills are going to diminsh fast and cost 30 a year easy.You would sacrifice 15 years of good basketball for a chance 1 chance. JC is a damn good laker and person and I bet a hell of a good defender in a unit full of pros on the same page. I like Jordan Clarkson and I want him on our team.


    • The thing about Clarkson is that his growth has stalled. I doubt he will get better than he already is. His contract is decent and if he can be traded for a better talent, im all for it. And if hes stays im fine with it too.


  20. Watching summer league, and taking into consideration the KCP signing had led me to trust the new FO. I think Magic/Rob/Walton have a good young, intelligent brain trust going right now. I want on the team whomever THEY want on the team.

    So far Kuzma looks like an absolute STEAL! Im personally high on Bryant.

    Going forward into the season, I am anxious to see the progress of Nance, Randle and Clarkson. I think if the FO/Luke didn’t see work ethic and growth, they wouldn’t be around right now. (DAR trade)

    Final thought, so far my rookie ranking in summer league
    1. Tatum
    2. LonZo Ball
    3. Dennis Smith Jr.
    4. Josh Jackson
    5. Fultz?

    I haven’t watched many games, but I love the lakers pick and the other lottery talent was pretty much as advertised so far.


  21. Renato Afonso July 14, 2017 at 2:03 am

    Jordan Clarkson is a 6th man who comes in games to get some buckets, even if it comes at the cost of some ISO play. Sometimes a team needs that. No problem with keeping him as long as the other guards are at least above average on defense.


  22. I guess some people doubted if Lonzo was a player. For me the doubt was always about if we were going to be lucky enough to draft him. Just think folks … I don’t know if you have noticed but the kid isn’t even top shape yet. What till he gets his wind and legs back because Lonzo can run all day! He also plays a bit above the rim and he jumps pretty well and is a legit 6′ 6″ and might grow a bit more.
    Lonzo is also a better shooter than people realize and being the threat he is to put pressure on the defense with his ball distribution he will get and hit more open looks than people think. While he is not an elite shooter like Steph Curry, Lonzo is a good shooter and for all the talk about his funny shot his release point is strikingly similar to Steph Curry whose stroke was questioned also during NBA scouting evaluations. Not in regards to if he could shoot because everyone knew Curry could stroke it but with his release point would he be as successful getting it off against NBA level defenders. Can dominate smaller guards with his height does not really have traditional post game but the kid can elevate and get a lot of easy lobs and put backs on them. Lonzo might already be one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA and my guess will probably become the best in the next few years…already rebounds well wait till his body fills out!
    Also, never understood why people questioned Lonzo’s D either. Not going to be an NBA elite type defender but look like he will be a capable defender and in the NBA if you can guard your man or switch a few positions and be effective then you help your team by not needing help and being even to give help and recover on D. he seems to be able to do it so I think we can feel safe there. This kid can play sure there is going to be some ups and down but i think we are going to be alright.


  23. Rick in Seattle July 16, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Besides the uncertainty that Lebron would ever leave Cleveland (again), there seems to be a consensus that most Lakers fans are not interested in him coming to the Lakers in F/A.

    But there does seem to be some difference of opinion regarding Clarkson. In my opinion, which is not shared by everyone, he is now a 1-dimentional reserve for which he is being paid about $12 1/2 mil per year. in light of the teams interest in 2018 free agency, and the arrival of KCP, Josh Hart & possibly Dozier & Blue, the team probably has less need for an expensive reserve SG.

    With a diminished need to keep Clarkson, if an opportunity to trade him becomes available, it may be good cap management to do so. It’s not that we don’t like Clarkson, its just that his salary can be better used elsewhere–just good business management. It’s not personal!

    And, in about 11, months the same argument will apply to Randle. It’s no secret that the team is jammed at the PF position as long as Deng remains on roster. And Kuzma is an exciting find in summer league. So, he will bring another pending roster situation to deal with as well.

    Finally, looking own the roster, there is still a need for a veteran backup PG, and while there is no one that currently rings that bell. it will be needed before training camp is over.

    This team (and its fans) are not being ‘sharks’ as MSWAY implied earlier, for wanting to improve. The Lakers are an organization that thrives (financially & socially) on a winning culture. It’s also called practicality and meeting a budget. If the Lakers have opportunities to improve thru free agency, they have every right and expectation to do so. The Lakers have a history of winning and their fans expect that. This is not the Clippers organization, which for years had a habit of maintaining mediocraty under their former owner.

    I will close by saying that if the new Lakers FO continues their aggressive desire to improve, there will likely be additional trades in the near future. Whether Deng can be traded this year or next year is yet to be determined. But if maximum cap space is the organizations goal for 2018, Clarkson’s contract (and perhaps Deng, Brewer & Randle as well) will likely to be used. As we saw with the Mozgov trade (which I supported), sometimes you have to give up desirable players in order to obtain more desirable players. It’s called roster improvement and in my opinion is very likely to continue.


  24. My position Rick is Different than yours. I feel that the greatest sports organizations are the ones that sustain that greatness through long term development by drafting young stars that stay in and grow with a community for years and years.Kind of part of the family that mom and dad can remember the players names for a few years and little kids can put their heroes posters on the wall and dream of becoming on the driveway court.I think that that is a fairly sound buisness model that has worked for years in the LA area.I am aware obviously how important it is to aquire needed players to increase talent to provide a better product for the fan base.,But while some look at players as assets,I look at them as potential long term investments witch have lasting production to the surrounding communities also.I miss the winning just as much as everyone else,and yes, we have paid in losses to aquire this talent and I am dragging my feet at the thought of a hurried executive coming in and throwing our investments away prematurely.(as far as JC’s talent is concerned, what do some of you expect? he is a good defender in my opinion and he hasn’t stopped developing,His shot has improved every year, he is a combo guard at 6-5 with very good atheletic ability who never stops working on his game that I think can develope into a solid pro back up who can flat out save our asses in the wars that are coming.This kid has been asked to do alot, but never to only defend, He can do some of everthing at a pretty high level and at 12 million,6 million less than KCP with amazingly similar numbers, I am going to make my point that this might be a 2 guard combo that we dont want to break up so fast.I,m betting that JC has a breakout year, This year.