I Don’t Care if it’s Only Summer League, Lonzo Ball is Special

Darius Soriano —  July 14, 2017

It can be a hard negotiation with yourself, summer league.

You see the numbers, but you also want to discredit them. I mean, I was listening to the Basketball Analogy Podcast and ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh rattled off the top scorers from the Vegas league dating back to 2005. The list had some impressive names (including Damian Lillard and Kawhi Leonard), but also a bunch of other random dudes who carved out fine enough careers, but never turned into franchise altering players.

Lonzo Ball isn’t on the list of Vegas’ top bucket getters, but he’s putting up other types of numbers. He’s leading all of Vegas in assists. He’s rung up two triple-doubles in his last three games and had a 36 point, 11 assist contest sandwiched in the middle of them. Even though his outside shot isn’t falling, the numbers pop. I so badly want them to matter, but understand any weight I want them to carry comes with a caveat of this being Las Vegas in July, not STAPLES Center in May or June.

The eye test can be funny, too, because the human brain can be funny. It has a way of attaching value to things to create a lasting memory; a way of ascribing importance to things that verify what you already want to believe while diminishing the things which don’t quite fit into your pre-established outlook.

As I negotiate that in my head, though, a realization starts to seep in. I don’t care if it’s only summer league, Lonzo Ball is special.

I see a kid who is, without exaggeration, changing the approach his team takes on the floor. He is the patient zero in the outbreak of unselfish summer league basketball. Guys are running harder because he’s willing to give up the ball in the backcourt by throwing ahead to them. I see guys making the extra pass, not necessarily because they know it’s the right play, but because it’s how this team now plays. I see guys who are typically gunners, getting hockey assists. And I credit this kid, this rookie.

I also see a player who, despite his experience level and an age still in the teens, being someone who is smarter than most of his peers in how he’s thinking out scenarios in front of him. I see someone who is manipulating angles, taking a screen in one direction only to set up a re-screen in the other. I see a player taking as many extra dribbles as is needed to freeze the help defender so the pass he makes is going to a wide open teammate. I see someone who pauses a beat, waiting until the exact moment when a teammate’s crease into open space develops, to deliver the ball.

And he does this stuff naturally. As if it’s instinct. But not many players have these instincts. At least not from what I can tell. Because if they did, we’d see more people play like this, right?

None of this makes a perfect player, of course. To this point in Vegas, the shot making has been low and the turnover count high. Fatigue has led to forced passes, some suspect shot selection, and some defensive effort issues which can (and have) hurt the team. On one possession, I saw him jog back on defense, see his man out of the corner of his eye start to cut behind him, and then him just stand there above the shoulder of the three point line guarding no one. On another I saw him dribble the ball up and launch a three pointer when his defender went under a screen. Yeah, he was tired and on many levels it’s excusable. But I point it out to say that improvement will be needed.

But he’s 19 years old. Do you think he’s going to find a way to improve? That he’ll get stronger? That he’ll find the range on his jumper? Gain experience and become smarter? Become more in tune with what his limits are? What his teammates’ limits are? Learn where he can take risks? When he can force shots?

I believe the answer to these questions are yes. To all of them. Time is on his side. And so are smarts and, at least to me, what looks like an innate and acute understanding of how to play basketball within the team concept. No, that’s wrong. An innate and acute ability to foster and contribute to an environment where team play thrives.

I don’t care if it’s summer league. Lonzo Ball is special. This, I am pretty much sure of.


Darius Soriano

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to I Don’t Care if it’s Only Summer League, Lonzo Ball is Special

  1. Preach, Darius!!!

    3+

  2. Great reading this article it is right to the point. Alonzo Ball is a Big Time Baller.

    1+

  3. Best wishes for your brother.

    1+

  4. Lonzo Ball will be a superstar in the NBA , I give him 2 years and he will give you 22/12 asg , he will be fantastic for the Lakers if him & Brandon ingram become that 1/2 punch the NBA in trouble then add Paul George and Boogie that equals NBA championship

    6+

    • Absolutely agree. PG13 will mostly likely take notice if this new squad improves to the point of competing for an 8th seed or better next year…and if that happens it is a real possibility that Boogie would come over. Both PG13 & Boogie are UFA in 2018. Both have expressed interest in LA. And we happen to have enough $$$ for 2 max players. That’s the play right there. But first these youngsters gotta win.

      1+

    • Absolutely agree. PG13 will mostly likely take notice if this new squad improves to the point of competing for an 8th seed or better next year…and if that happens it is a real possibility that Boogie would come over. Both PG13 & Boogie are UFA in 2018. Both have expressed interest in LA. And we happen to have enough $$$ for 2 max players. That’s the play right there. But first these youngsters gotta win.

      1+

    • Do we think New Orleans would trade their all-star stretch 5 for our all-star stretch 5? if big Cuz made it clear he’ll not be returning after this year, it would seem like Lopez would be a kick-ass fit along side Davis.

      0

  5. Lonzo is next level

    1+

  6. Let me say more loudly what you’re saying eloquently – this kid is really really effing good and he’s going to get better, probably a lot better. And he plays for us.

    1+

  7. How can I not agree? Yet it’s still early in his career, and perhaps we all need to not go over the top (you have my permission to do so nest May…). Still, I wonder what those who wanted Fox, etc., or to trade the pick, have to say now???

    1+

  8. theNumberOfFlopsIsTooDamnHigh July 15, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Lonzo: you must become one with the Ball, be the Ball.

    1+

  9. “He is the ‘patient zero’ in the outbreak of unselfish summer league basketball.”

    Nice touch to a very relateable view of this kid, who forshadows pieces of the game in so many ways. He’s certainly special. No doubt.

    5+

  10. I’ve been reading your posts for some time. I haven’t heard you so excited about a player in long time. What’s exciting about Lonzo is that he doesn’t need to be a dominant scorer to be a great player. Truly a unique talent in today’s NBA.

    1+

  11. This was almost poetic to a sense, but truly lovely read.

    Lonzo is the future we’ve waited for.

    1+

  12. Thanks for that Darius.
    What’s strange is that I went to visit my Dad and was telling him that very same things about Lonzo Ball just yesterday. My dad hasn’t watched an NBA game in over 30 years, hates it in fact, but after telling him, in a very animated way I might add, the very same things you mentioned- his infectious style of play, his incredible passing vision, his calm, even-keel, no showboat demeanor, the expectations that something special is going to happen, so don’t take your eyes off the game when Lonzo’s got the ball- my dad just listened. He usually makes some snide off-handed comment like..”these guys make too damn much money” or “just a bunch showboats”. But he didn’t say anything until I was all done, ending my commentary by describing that amazing shot under neath the basket when, in midair, he changed hands from right to left and layed it in, making it look like the most natural move in the world……and he said….in a very serious tone I might add, ”hmmm….I think I might have to watch this kid for a few games”. THAT’S what this kid is not only bringing to the Lakers, but to the NBA, no joke!
    I except we may not make the playoffs for a few years, maybe, but with this kid, I just can’t wait until the next game, and the next, and the next. He plays it the way I always hoped a Laker could since I first saw Magic.
    Ok…I’m done….I need to calm down now.

    17+

  13. Great read Darius. Lonzo has me excited in a way that I haven’t been for a few years now. He certainly seems special in the way that certain players are “must see” on the court. He feels like that, and it’s been a minute since the Lakers have had that type of player. Time will tell of course, but it’s going to be fun finding out.

    4+

  14. As amazing as Lonzo has been in summer league, I believe( relatively speaking) that this is just the calm before the storm. Lonzo’s game is like a heavy two way magnet that emits and absorbs this silent but powerful energy. People who watch him play can’t help but to feel it. Kuzma has been a beneficiary of that energy. I cannot wait until the rest of his teammates get a taste of it. We are going to see that energy bouncing back and forth….. and it’s going to just start growing and growing. The higher skilled the teammate, the more powerful that reflecting force will be. The result will be an explosion of fireworks on the court. On paper, this is not a playoff team in the stacked West, but the past versions of Lopez, Pope and everyone else have never experienced the energy that Lonzo will bring. This team will be re-energized…..This team is headed to the playoffs…….

    11+

    • Dare we believe?

      Yes!

      2+

    • Rick in Seattle July 15, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Love your optimism, LT, but weren’t we hearing similar playoff predictions last summer? I too, think that the arrival of Lopez, KCP, and Ball, along with the maturity and growth we will see from Nance, Randle, Clarkson and Zubac will result in a lot of improvement.

      While there will be absolutely no reason or motivation to tank this year, the Western Conference is stacked, and will be even tougher than last year.

      Now, if Magic is able to bring in a few more key veterans, things could change. But as currently constructed, while the Lakers are improved and will likely win more games, I cannot see how this team will come close to being a playoff team.

      Ball will be a rookie, a good rookie, but still a rookie. Ingram has a bright future, but is just beginning his 2nd season. Zubac, who looked great in the second half last year, has been very unimpressive in summer league. While we all see a positive future for Kuzma, he is still a rookie, and how much playing time will he really receive?

      Unless Randle comes in & really dominates, they probably need a bit more development time.

      There are seven other teams they would have to jump to get to the 8th seed.

      Wish it were true, but just don’t see it happening this year, bro.

      2+

  15. Who will sub Lonzo? Rondo agreed to join Pelicans this morning so that pave way to re-signing of Ennis and possibly Vander Blue as reserve 2, I wish. Do you think Clark and Canaan are still needed? Are the Lakers still interested of Rodney Stuckey? What will happen to Robinson?
    Another Pg unrestricted is Brandon Jennings, I doubt if he would accept 4.3m for 1 year only.

    1+

    • Clay Bertrand July 15, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      I had forgotten about Jennings……..Interesting……

      He IS an L.A. guy. He has criticized D’Angelo Russell quite a bit so with him gone, on paper Brandon Jennings could be a viable veteran backup PG candidate. I think he WOULD take that $4.3 Mil money. He made MUCH LESS last season splitting time between the Knicks and Wizards. Coming off that rough injury.

      He IS only 27 but he had never been a consistent outside shooter and he has likely lost a lot of his quickness due to tearing his Achilles a couple of years ago. An Achilles is not an ACL where advancements in surgeries have produced basically full recoveries for guys who tear their ACLs. Achilles injuries are career altering if not ending.

      The Questions are what does Jennings have left at this point, whether his volume shooting style fits with the Lakers and whether he is a better option than say Ennis for example.

      These 2 way contracts are great because it means fringe developmental guys no longer take up those last 1 or 2 roster spots. The Lakers could find some veteran bargains to fill out the roster. I like that they seem to be proceeding carefully and with patience at this point.

      1+

    • Im hoping for Clark.

      0

  16. Renato Afonso July 15, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Playoff talk already? Woah…

    4+

    • I agree with Renato and Rick in Seattle.

      The Lakers will be a very young team next year. If they exceed 34 games, I’ll be very pleased. They’re a good year away (or two or three) from being a genuine playoff team. But once Lonzo, Ingram, and Zubac mature (players who this year will be all of 19, 20, and 20 years old), then look out.

      That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy watching them grow and mature. But right now, the playoffs are still a bit beyond the horizon.

      4+

  17. What’s so important is that everyone is having fun–and let’s not spoil it. There’s every reason to expect a fun preseason–and a madhouse at Staples when the season opens. What follows is still unsure–but that’s OK.

    I enjoyed the Warriors as they were emerging–and experiencing unacceptable meltdowns–in some ways more than I do now. Lonzo ball, right now, is infectious, as we watch. Even without Lonzo, this team already is becoming interesting on it’s own–as it has to be. With Lonzo, we’re beginning to expect that the right complementary players will show up–and they are.

    I began actively participating again even before we knew Lonzo was possible-sensing a turnaround. I haven’t been disappointed.

    Let’s not think too far ahead. Getting there may be more fun than being there.

    2+

  18. A Horse With No Name July 15, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Darius: A great tonal sound to your piece: a heady mix of elation and defiance.

    LT: “Lonzo’s game is like a heavy two way magnet that emits and absorbs this silent but powerful energy.” Damn! Beautiful.

    4+

  19. Rondo has signed with NO.

    0

  20. Fantastic post Darius !

    Like Pete said: “Since Kobe hung up his shoes, Lonzo is the One we’ve been waiting for !”

    It’s about time too !!

    1+

  21. I can’t remember who I was reading but someone described Lonzo as have “It” and does he ever. when has anyone caused this much excitement let alone a Laker.

    0

  22. Random Laker Fan July 15, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I saw the 36 point game. My assessment: NBA level handles, NBA elite passing, maybe NBA level taking contact and finishing, NBA level help defense. Everything else about his game was summer league level at best; it’s going to require work on his part to get it up to NBA level.

    Ball has no lateral quickness, literally none, I was shocked how bad he is with that. His first step to the basket is not that quick, those were summer league defenders, not NBA defenders. NBA star defenders can and will stay in front of him, he is not getting by Kawhi Leonard anytime soon, for instance. Gonna need that outside shot to drop consistently in order to help with that. Defensively, he’s not stopping anyone one on one anytime soon. Fatigue will also be an issue as he plays more games than he ever has. Rondo signed elsewhere, who’s left who can spell Ball? Caruso is 3rd string at best, not a good option …

    So … work in progress. He’s had it pretty easy to this point, let’s see how hard he works now and in the next few years.

    Other assessments:
    Kuzma is intriguing, definitely intriguing. Dunno about steal of the draft, but he does have the look of a guy who could be in the league for 10-12 years. Maybe he makes Randle expendable if Randle isn’t showing up every night.

    Bryant is G League at best, not even Tarik Black quality.

    Zubac is slowwwww! Had trouble finishing against summer league defenders. Well, they sacrificed Black for him so they’re extending some rope there. But backup quality may be the best that can be hoped for. He’ll get some backup minutes when Lopez is on the bench and there isn’t the need to go small. But dang is he slow!

    Blue is backup at best. He’s a PG sized player whose best position is at the 2. I suppose he could play next to Ball, but only if both work on their defense.

    6+

    • Killjoy ! …. and I’m having trouble disagreeing with what you wrote ….

      0

    • @Random Laker Fan

      Kuzma … don’t know about steal of the draft?

      Well…I think you know now. Kuzma … Steal of the draft!

      0

  23. Awesome reading and right on point Sir Darius! About time somebody showed some excitement for this gifted KID.

    LAkers are being redeemed!!

    1+

  24. Zubac looks heavy and maybe he hasn’t started the new Lakers strength and conditioning program. If he’s 265 maybe he needs to think about playing at 245/250. Right now he’s an old school center in a game that has moved beyond that.

    3+

    • Rick in Seattle July 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Matt, we had the same thoughts. If Gunner Peterson can begin working immediately with both Zubac and Ball, it could help both players tremendously. There’s a lot of room for improvement.

      First two SL games, Big Z looked totally lost and lethargic. It’s certainly disappointing after the way he was playing only three months ago. He looked like he lost some of his explosiveness. He was getting physically out-played by opposing SL players. But he is young and still seems eager to be coached. Very likely, getting him in tip-top shape physically would help a lot.
      Looks like he needs to improve strength, endurance, quickness & core muscle development.

      Same situation with Ball. While Ball has shown tremendous individual skills, in other ways it’s becoming obvious that he also has a few weaknesses which are going to be exposed when he goes up against veteran players in the regular season. He needs to improve his strength & stamina, Also, his play against other quick point guards would improve if Peterson can help him improve his overall quickness.

      If Peterson can help produce the same results with Ball & Zubac that we have seen with Randle he will have earned his money. This will also make both players better able to endure the strains and rigors of a long NBA season. Particularly important for Ball as he has no designated backup today, if he were to sustain a serious injury.

      2+

  25. TempleOfJamesWorthy July 15, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks Darius,

    You eloquently expressed the same optimism I have about Ball. I believe he has the quality we hoped D’Angelo Russell would bring to the Lakers, which DAR ultimately couldn’t (for whatever reasons).

    Yes, he does need to improve some things. His ballhandling is a bit high and sloppy, leaving him vulnerable to being poke-stripped. Sometimes he makes an offensive move and decides to pass when the defense is actually playing him to pass (and he ***should*** take the shot). His defense isn’t great (but not Clarkson-level bad from what I’ve seen). And I have no explanation why his 3-point shot is so bad in summer league when he was a fine shooter at UCLA.

    Also, I think some criticism of Ball’s athleticism is warranted. He’s not Russell Westbrook (or even D’Aaron Fox). But I think he’s athletic ***enough*** to play passable defense and break down defenses with penetration.

    Meanwhile, after 40+ years of watching and playing basketball, I think the court vision/passing angle skills Ball possesses are things that cannot be coached. That’s not to say players can’t learn them, but for whatever reason, it seems only ***some*** basketball players can grasp at a high level how ball movement and player movement interact. And, yes, my observation has been that teams with players like that do find it infectious. Other players feed off the way the passing savants make the game easier and more fun, and try to do the same.

    I still would have loved to see what a Ball/DAR backcourt could have done, but if we had to choose one of the two, I’d rather have Ball. DAR had the passing skills and arguably is a better shooter, but Ball has the court sense to make those passing skills effective.

    1+

  26. Clay Bertrand July 15, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I wanted to say that I Love and wholeheartedly Second Darius’ Unapologetic Laker Fanatic Post. At the end of the day, even though we try to analyze, speculate, and opine on this team from the FO to the Owners to the G-League, we are all real fans at heart. And What in the HELL is wrong with that????? NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOTHING AT ALLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    No more tanking and some genuine excitement. I realize we have all been optimistic before. It feels different now than when we drafted any of the other young guys. It feels like Lonzo, warts and all, will be a culture changer, a game changer and a catalyst for what looks to be a bright future for the team.

    Even Darius couldn’t hide his excitement under his JOURNALIST/MEDIA hat. LOUD AND PROUD BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    4+

    • @Clay, I think the Lakers might have entertained another lottery pick if we had a pick in 2018. 2017 was loaded with elite PG’s and 2018 is loaded with elite bigs! Can’t tell me the Lakers wouldn’t love to get Porter, Bomba or Guyton. I believe one of the proven formulas for successful teams is Elite PG, Wing, C the Warriors were a PG, SG, PF with Durant now they are PG, SG, Wing, PF… that’s what makes them deadly… four elite players so they have surpassed the metric of 3’s.
      So, if you believe that Lonzo and Ingram will become elite players and I do … than we need that 3rd guy. If Randle finally busts out and I am hopeful that he will then this Laker team could become scary good in the next couple of years with the right FA additions.

      3+

      • Rick in Seattle July 15, 2017 at 6:38 pm

        @LordMo, If the Lakers need an all-star center, why don’t they make a play for Anthony Davis? This coming season we will see how well the combo of Davis & Cousins works.

        Or, with 2018 free agency, Lakers could turn their attention to a push for Cousins. I’m just not sure how well Cousins fits with our young core. Cousins is more of a Rondo-type personality. Do the Lakers need that?

        But Davis would be an excellent fit, IF New Orleans could be talked into trading him…..

        Oh Godfather, let Lakers front office make NO an offer they cannot refuse…

        Lakers could do a sign n trade in 2018, with Lakers sending a resigned Lopez, Randle, Clarkson, Dozier, Bryant & 2 future 1st rd picks for Davis. That’s a lot to trade, but Davis is and exceptional player.

        With Ball, Ingram & Davis, Lakers have their 3 future stars for the next 10 years.

        Who needs Paul George. .

        1+

        • Love The Brow! But would you trade Ingram and Lonzo to get him? That’s what the Pelicans would ask for.

          No, if NO is going to trade Davis , the Celtics have the youngsters and picks necessary to get a deal done. I hate Danny Ainge.

          Lakers will have to settle for Cousins in free agency.

          0

        • @Rick in Seattle….Good point!

          The Lakers probably will not land Davis not quite yet anyway.
          But I had forgotten about Boogie who has the same agent as Wall.
          Boogie being a Laker is a real possibility and PG-13 is going to be a Laker
          unless OKC makes a deep run into the playoffs.

          0

      • Sorry it’s Ayton not Guyton … knew it wasn’t right when I typed it in.

        0

  27. Told ya guys! Been saying all year we needed this kid. Keep working hard Lonzo and wait till he gets into shape.

    1+

  28. Enough DAR references, that ship has sailed. I heard John Ireland say that in talking to Byron Scott’s assistants and Luke’s assistants, they all said the same thing-that he thought he had arrived. I wish him well, but am so glad he is gone.

    4+

    • TempleOfJamesWorthy July 15, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      @dxmanners

      Seeing what Lonzo Ball ***IS*** has highlighted what DAR ultimately was NOT. Yes, I would liked to have seen if a Ball/DAR backcourt could have worked. I’m a huge sucker for good passing.

      But if trading DAR gives the Lakers the cap space to sign two elite free agents next summer.., then I wish DAR all the best as a Brooklyn Net.

      I think as we get into the new season and get to see how the new players complement the (hopefully) improved young vets, we’ll all forget about DAR and his issues.

      Go Lakers!

      0

  29. Rick in Seattle July 15, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Here we go:

    Demetrius Jackson, PG, age 22, 6-1 3-yr player at Notre Dame, Salary $1.38 mil w ($650K guaranteed). Just waived by Boston. A chance to replace Nwaba at about the same money.

    Don’t think Lakers have any money left under the cap, but they could use some of their room exception ($4.3 mil) to claim & sign him. I believe he was a second round pick in 2015

    However, he may not be the veteran mentor that they are looking for. Don’t know anything about him or whether he is an improvement over Ennis.

    Anyone out there familiar with Jackson?

    0

  30. Darius –

    Your writing is starting to remind me of Clint Eastwood. Good shit.

    0

  31. Definitely want to like him, and the Summer League games are showing that he has that extra sizzle that may be a harbinger of things to come.

    Still, so far, he seems to be at the level of the franchise star at a lottery team. Not one that would get you to the playoffs single handedly, even in the east, but still an all-star. Once he starts knocking shots down, things may be different, but to me, that’s where he projects.

    0

    • Lol. He’s 19. What did you think of Curry or Lillard etc at 19? They were 21 in their rookie years, and Lonzo is besting their SL numbers FYI.

      1+

  32. I’m a fan of what Lonzo is doing, I love the passing and good vibe, but he must look at Kuzma and Matt Thomas and wonder why his shot is so wonky.

    Down the road, I wonder if Thomas has enough in him to become a JJ Redick type, he can really shoot it.

    0

    • Matt Thomas even showed some defensive stops. Late in the 3rd quarter when the game was almost tied up, all Lakers played some good D Thomas included. Should be a South Bay Laker for sure, a training camp invite and a possible option for the 2-Way contract.

      0

  33. theNumberOfFlopsIsTooDamnHigh July 15, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    different topic: I don’t watch college ball, but scouts do, so how in the world did 26 teams pass on Kyle Kuzma?!!

    P.S. I love how this board comes alive as soon as the Lakers win. I always watch the games, and I always read Darius’ work and all comments. But I only post when I am excited about our team…lol. Am I a fair-weather fan?

    1+

    • Agreed. Seeing his play in SL at both ends of the floor makes it seem like he should have gone top 15. Although admittedly this draft is VERY deep, I mean Bam Adebayo went 14 and he played well for Miami in SL too. I guess it must have been 3-PT% from the college range. It’s surprising but it was only 30.2%. Kuz seems WAY more comfortable shooting from NBA range which is strange because it’ls usually the other way around.
      I’m guessing most teams projected him as a 4 who couldn’t shoot the 3 that well. But this SL has shown that he’s comfortable playing the 3, based on his play at the defensive end against guys like Tatum, Hollis-Jefferson etc. and his 3-PT shooting.

      1+

  34. The Lonzo effect: when in the last minute of the 4th quarter the Lakers are about to lose the ball, Blue and Ball end up on the floor at the end of the play and help each other up, and then Kuzma comes and lifts them both. Gotta love that.

    Our death lineup: Lonzo, KCP, Ingram, Kuzma, Nance

    2+

  35. I will give you two observations I have made/felt watching Lonzo:

    1. Beautiful. Watching him create when he is at full energy is beautiful. I feel weird saying that about a BB player, but its what strikes me. He is a maestro operating at the highest level.

    2. This supports #1. The confusion and frustration on the opposing teams faces and body language. His plays literally take the energy and gas out of the other team.

    I had many doubts about Lonzo coming into this season. I still do. But what I have seen in summer league makes me excited. I got to see one game in person in Vegas. He made one pass across the back court, a simple play, that made me literally shout out at the game. We may be looking at genius in terms of BB IQ.

    1+

  36. What’s truly exciting about Lonzo is that you can see he is very much a project right now with a ton of room to improve, and yet he already has this much affect on his team and has arguably been the best player in summer league with his overall play. The multiplier effect of Lonzo looks for real, at least through summer league, and if it translates at all to the NBA level he will be well worth the second pick even if he never improves, and if he does he will be a star. Extremely excited for the start of the season.

    0

  37. A lot of irrational exuberance on this site. Lonzo has legitimate promise but there are holes in his game. Let’s let the kid be a kid.

    2+

  38. It`s all about player development for Ball and the Lakers. Do they have the right coaches,and will players spend the time in watching tape,and in the weightroom and gym to reach their full potential. The raw material is in place,now it needs to be developed.The best part about Ball is his IQ, real and BB.,and his vision. I hope the Lakers can add another PG,because Lonzo is at his best when he`s rested.Once he`s in better shape,I think his 3pt shooting will improve.

    0

  39. Rick in Seattle July 16, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Just thinking out loud about the remaining vacant roster positions. There seems to more SG prospects available than veteran PG’s. Caaan, Clark, Blue. Wonder whether the Lakers front office might still go with Ennis on a non-guaranteed contract and keep their options open until training camp. I could also see Clarkson moving over to PG, at least in the interim to balance the roster. Clarkson has played enough point since his arrival to where he should be able to make the adjustment.

    While it’s still too early to really speculate, Lakers don’t need (and should not expect) three veteran all-stars next summer in free agency. If they are fortunate enough to sign two (PG & Cousins) that would make a huge difference and probably put the team into top-4 contention in the tough Western Conference. From there, their level of success would probably be linked to how well the young core continues to progress. Just like the last couple seasons, the upcoming campaign will be all about the development of this young core. And I would firmly include Lopez and KCP in that discussion.

    0

  40. You know its funny, we can be so critical as people. He does this he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t have this or that, good lord cant he just be what he is. A kid who loves to hoop and who has been developing his game his entire life. He doesn’t shoot like Curry, he doesn’t have Kyrie’s handle, he isn’t built like Harden, he doesn’t have Westbrook’s athleticism, who cares. He’s a BB savant and i love watching him and what he brings to the court. I’ve watched every game except the nets game and the electricity this kid bring is palatable and infectious. His teammates some 3-4 years older than he, are energized by his presence. Yes he will wear down as the season goes along, yes he is going to have turnovers, yes he will shoot poorly, I DON’T CARE. His game is like a seed, it will take time to grow, Let the kid be a kid and let this gem this new “Vino” mature into a robust vintage. 30+ wins and a change in culture is a win for me. Looking at this kid play and his attitude about winning and team makes it clear why DLO is gone. Zo’s game flows, its a beautiful thing to behold and i for one am going to sit back and relish every bit of it

    4+

  41. I admit I am intrigued by a PG and Cousins addition next summer. Although, PG may choose to stay in OKC and KCP may blossom playing alongside Ball.

    A note on Cousins, he is playing at 270+ pounds. He’d have to be willing to get in better shape before I’d sign him.

    You may have noted I did not include LBJ as a free agent target. A) I’m not sure he would really come. B) I’m not keen on signing 33 year olds with more mileage than any other player in history to long term deals. There’s a downside to Lebron’s career nearby and I don’t want to have to pay for it.

    0

  42. To the bubble poppers: After all these years of Frustration – Enthusiasm is exactly what the doctor ordered ! It’s good for the soul –

    So let us rejoice and sing our song, that the One has arrived, to uplift us back to the heights, where we Lakers fans belong !

    2+

    • Approaching Lonzo from a realistic and cautiously optimistic perspective does not make me any less of a fan or a ‘bubble popper’.

      1+

      • This is not a time when ‘Concern’ is warranted, but a time for hope !

        We’re not in the finals, with a championship riding on our young team’s back, but in a place were we can finally see light at the end of a long dark tunnel.

        If you want to stay back in the darkness, shake in your boots, and worry about what might or might not happen out in the sunshine, then do that, but don’t be surprised when few stay with you.

        1+

  43. Off topic, I hope that Vander Blue finally gets his shot in the NBA. The reining G league star has been demonstrating his perseverance for years. Let it finally pay off !

    0

    • However, perhaps not with the Lakers.

      We already have Clarkson to bring what Blue does. If Clarkson were traded, then I could see us adding Blue to the team.

      0

      • Rick in Seattle July 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

        Sorry to bust your bubble, but there’s good and bad with Clarkson. The good is he is a 25 yr old coming into his 4th season, starting the second year of slightly bloated 4-yr contract. Bad? Same answer.

        Ii’s interesting that we get really attached to the Laker players (as with DeAngelo) but forget that pro basketball is a business. You may disagree, but I dont see Clarkson being on this team at this time next season. His salary could easily come into play for a variety of trade opportunities (as could Randle’s).

        Cap dollars count and if the team has better options with their limited cap space, they must make tough choices. Recently, Nwaba was waived to make room under the cap for KCP..

        While I liked Nwaba and thought that what he brought to the team was very positive, KCP has a proven record as a much better player. Again, this gets down to a business decision.

        The Lakers history is all about winning titles. And to do that, it requires tough decisions. For those who have never run a business this may be concerning. For others, this is just prudent business 101. Long story short, this is why I feel that Clarkson will not be a long term part of the team. Unfortunately, Randle’s coming extension? raises similar questions as to his future with the team as well.

        1+

  44. Ditto Concerned a 34 yo LBJ with the kind of mileage he has is not something i want the FO to invest in. Note: I am not a LBJ fan at all. Now if he is willing to take a Dirk or Duncan salary then by all means get him. It looks as if Zubac took a step back but i dont think he has. He really performed well within the structured system last year, SL is many things but structured it isnt. I think he will show marked improvement once the regular season starts. Best thing for him is he gets to be back up center and continue to develop. My biggest question marks this year are Clarkson and Randle. Are they ready to show a big jump in production. Teams passed on Kuzma because of his age one and because he had an up and down year in Utah. He was a star at the combine where he demonstrated an NBA ready 3 and tenacious defense. I think he may be a steal. But lets see how he performs as a bench and role player with limited minutes. Right now Randle and Nance will see most of the 4 minutes with Deng in the cut

    0

  45. I love your optimism but, I started going into summer camp with concerns. Despite seeing some great things from Ball I didn’t see any of my concerns about his game alleviated. He simply did not do anything I didn’t expect already. Kuzma on the otherhand looked much more ready than I thought.

    0

  46. Lets slow down the playoff talk please. I say we might end up with 35-40 wins and it would be an achievement to finish with a 500 record. This is the West in an historically good level. The Lskers will be unbeliavable fun to watch though…

    2+

  47. Tonight will be a great test for this Lakers SL roster. Mavs are undefeated through Orlando & Las Vegas, and by wide margins. Can LonZo guard quick PGs? Let’s match him up in SL on Dennis Smith Jr and let him battle to prove himself.

    I thought that the win last night against the Nets was very impressive considering 4/5 of the Nets SL starters were full time NBA rotation guys for the parent club last season.

    On 2018 (though I prefer to concentrate on the season at hand) I am not at all convinced that PG leaves OKC for LA, I feel pretty sure he and Westbrook will sign extensions there. My favorite targets to fit what the Lakers are trying to do are Klay Thompson, Demarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, Deandre Jordan. I think you have to investigate the possibility of adding Lebron, he’s an all time great. But don’t get caught up in Lebron or bust. I hope the FO watches KCP closely and is open minded to him being one of next years foreshadowed major signings, if his play this year merits long time starting SG consideration.

    SL Semi-finals tonight!!! it’s been really fun watching the young guys play ball and find an identity and flow of team play. I really hope they can continue their tournament run and compete for the SL championship, no better way to get quality offseason experience than playing through the whole tournament. Let’s go Lakers!!!!!

    I think LonZo wears Jordan’s tonight

    0

  48. Man, This Lonzo kid is just too good eventhough its still summer league.

    0

  49. Hopefully a blowout win against Dallas can slow the DSJ hype train and people implying the Lakers picked wrong (lol). Lonzo does everything DSJ does but better without iso, while also rebounding like a small forward. It’s no coincidence UCLA offense was a juggernaut and now the Lakers SL team is also.

    Best part is that most of these teams the Lakers are blowing by have many second year players who got legit burn with their NBA team last year. Lakers are killing them with Kuzma, Caruso, Thomas, Wear, and Bryant….oh yea, that Lonzo kid Can play.

    But, but, but…he can’t do this or can’t do that, they will continue telling us. I’m pretty sure nobody would pick Fox or DSJ over him now 😉

    0

  50. I’m a Lakers fan and I refuse to let certain posters ruin the experience of this board. I have been called out because my comment did not 100% mirror someone else’s. I would hope this board would be more tolerant of differing takes.

    7+

    • Concerned-

      The great majority of posters know who the valuable contributors are. Don’t let the loud ones get you down.

      Go Lakers.

      6+

    • Concerned – Lol – My original post wasn’t referring to you.
      The fact that you took it personally, however, is amusing.

      In addition, it’s a bit thin skinned, to use your ‘fan card’ like a shield, over an innocuous comment about optimism, don’t you think?

      Don’t take this so serious bro, it’s nothing to be Concerned about.

      As for “mattal the majority voice’ – If that belief gets you though the day, by all means, run with it.

      4+

  51. Rick in Seattle July 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Agree with Fern. As much as we would like, the Lakers are probably going to be well into the Lottery for another year (unless the front office makes some additional veteran trades) .

    The Summer League Lakers are putting a whopping on Dallas at halftime, but this is still summer league. It bodes well for the future, but some development still needs to take place

    I am really concerned about the health of Lonzo. He is the heart of this team right now and he has no replacement. I’ve said this before and I say it aging,. FO needs to find a solid veteran backup for Lonzo. He is too important to the team.

    As far as next season’s free agency, that is a long ways off. An awful lot can happen between now and then. Early on my favorite combination of players to acquire was Butler & Cousins.

    But with Butler taken, any combination of George, Cousins, or even K Love, I think could work.

    But the thought of Lebron and his (current) $33 mil salary (next option year to be $35 mil) is a bit much for a player soon to be 33 years of age (December 30). Sure he has been a great player, but not sure he is the best fit for this young Lakers core to build around. Neither is Westbrook. Too much ball dominance like Kobe.

    If I recall correctly, both George & Cousins are close to 27, a full 5 years younger than Lebron–a significant age difference.

    Start of second half–Go Lakers–get ready to meet Conference rival Portland in the Finals.

    1+

    • Rick in Seattle July 17, 2017 at 1:04 am

      A couple of thoughts regarding 2018 free agency.

      If no more trades happen, Lakers will have 3 expiring contracts: KCP, Lopez & Brewer.
      These 3 contracts roughly total about $48,220,000. not considering cap holds. So that is roughly the amount of money the Lakers will have to spend in free agency.

      That amount may get you TWO max free agents
      Or they can resign Lopez and KCP and probably have a little bit left over.

      If they want three free agents, they will have to clear an additional $25 mil in cap space. The only way to do that would be to trade the contracts of Clarkson & Deng, which would add up to about #30 mil.

      If they want four near max free agents, its close to impossible without some very creative financing and probably huge tax penalties. (See Warriors & Cavs) .

      Therefore, next summer the Lakers could (if both Clarkson & Deng were traded with no money coming back) bring in three (3) near max contracts. Some combination of George, Cousins, KCP, Lopez, or similar player.

      The more reasonable possibility is just two max players

      Perhaps they choose between Cousins & Lopez. Both are Centers and in many ways duplicate each other. Similarly, George and KCP are both quality wing players, although George is mostly a SF and KCP is normally a SG.

      If the team does NOT trade Clarkson and Deng, then the team will have enough cap space for only two near max contracts.

      So to put this into perspective, the team will have to choose carefully when it comes to free agents next summer. IF George and Cousins choose not to sign, then re-signing KCP and Lopez probably become the priority..

      Its complicated, but at the same time interesting to think about….

      1+

  52. Lordy, I love to watch Matt Thomas shoot the ball.

    2+

  53. Lakers move on to the Finals SL without Lonzo in the 2nd half. From what we witnessed this afternoon when Lonzo went to the bench, that’s my concern, will the 2nd stringers in the team show up when push gets to shove and Lonzo is not there to help? Where is the muscle in the shaded lane to push the Lebrons, Harden and Westbrook? Where is the wall if Brook Lopez gets down? Clearly, it showed the holes of the Lakers a reliable PG who will sub Lonzo when he gets down or Brook Lopez, when the pressure gets tougher and gets fouled out. Who are the available help out there still available? For Centers, I like Javale McGee or Tyler Zeller or Tiago Splitter, see if they will go for 2M contract. For PG Tyler Ennis, Tony Allen or Beno Udrih.

    In the bigger picture, as long timed Laker fans, we are not moved by the hype of the social media generation. We may be the die hard optimists when season begins, though reluctant to go with the hype of marvelous Lonzo or the carnival barker, Lavar fascination of his shoe brand. Hone up more skills for Zubak in blocking shots, matador defense from everyone in stopping those players who 4x better than Smith Jr. We are the realistic dudes that became avid fans of the Lakers after full-scaped basketball education from the late Chicky baby. He must be smiling up there with this Lakers revival asking the Buss Family , why just now?

    0

  54. “It’s only summer league” (while wishing their player and team did better than Ball and the Lakers so they can tell us how much it matters).

    “Wait until he plays against NBA players” (while pretending the 19 year old is done developing and ignores that Balls numbers compare favorably to other all-star players when they were in summer league).

    0

  55. I’m betting Clarkson is the backup PG, he’s played it before. He’s a little older, a little wiser, and with a new culture around him he’ll be fine. Talented player, watch him flourish in a positive atmosphere.

    2+

  56. As if there were any doubts, the Lakers got the best player from the 2017 draft and he may end up being the best player from the last few drafts. Ball knows the game and still has a gear or two he has not needed in Summer League. I would rather not see him play tomorrow night. He has proven all he needs to and does not need to keep aggravating whatever is bothering his leg. Get off it and come to preseason camp ready to go. Making the strain worse will end up requiring real down time and cut into his summer conditioning program. Lastly, how much does changing shoe brands each night impact his leg?

    After watching tonight’s game, my opinion is that 3 point shots must not be so difficult. Just about all of the Lakers were making them at a high rate.

    3+

    • Rick in Seattle July 16, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      While your concerns about Lonzo’s long term health are understood, I don’t think the Lakers medical staff would allow Ball to play tomorrow night if there was a chance of serious injury.

      He is 19 and probably worn out after six games in seven days. Muscle cramping is generally not a serious injury and may be a result of the heat and his lack of physical activity the past 3 months. (he was held out of game 3 wasn’t he?) His stated goal from the beginning was to win the summer league title. To sit him down after all he has accomplished up to now would be hugely discouraging.

      But, this team is going to eventually need a good backup before the season starts. Can Clarkson be that person? Perhaps.

      With about 2 and a half months before training camp, Ball, Kuzma and the whole gang are going to need to get themselves into tip-top physical shape before camp starts.
      Trust me—They are not ready for the grind of an 82 game season.

      0

  57. TheNumberOfFlopsIsToDamnHigh July 16, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Like I said, I’m as excited as can be about our team, but let’s put down the cool aid for a moment. Stop it with the play off talks already.

    The WC is stacked. Out of last years playoff teams,only Grizzlies and Jazz got much worse in free agency, so they might slip.
    However, the Nuggets, Pelicans, Kings and Timberwolves all got better in the offseason and/or during the end of last season (some a LOT better this offseason).
    …and these guys were already ahead of us before that.

    So I’d say it’ll take at least 43 wins (.524 percentage) to squeak into 8th seed in the west this season.

    That said, let’s be realistic: albeit being a punk and inconsistent at times, D’Angelo’s overall contribution was well above average last season.
    While we upgraded at the enter and shooting guard positions, we gave up a quality starting PG plus top notch 3 point shooting in Nick Young and Lou Williams.
    Ingram, Randle and Nance have reportedly worked hard on their game this summer.
    They, as well as the other remaining rooks from last year, have the experience of a full season under their belt, so they all might contribute more in the upcoming season.

    Still, it will be a very different roster and new look, so there will be growing pains and tons of turn overs. And lots of lost games until the team builds chemistry and can gel consistently.

    Even if all that wasn’t the case and all things being equal, no 26 win team is turning into a playoff team the next year with a starting rookie point guard, just because he shows great promise and a spectacular summer league performance.
    We still would need a top level veteran tarting point guard to compete in the west, at least until Lonzo matures and gets a full season under his legs.

    So, hold your horses, guys. We’ll be better, but no way sniff the play-offs. However, I promise I won’t be mad if I’m wrong….

    0

  58. happy to watch Lonzo and the crew get it done, even though its Summer League.
    and I agree, Lonzo is special. great potential to be a star in this league. something that DAR has not able to show in his stint with us.
    excited for this coming season. 🙂

    0

  59. My overall take here is that no one is really considering our team to make the playoffs this year – THAT would be the icing on the cake, but we ARE excited at who we’ve got. Living in the moment for us is extremely fun right now and if we can see how infectious one player’s attitude is on guys he has only played with for a few weeks, how the team is improving every game, Kuzma looking like Worthy, Thomas and Ware shooting like Silk, Caruso leaving everything on the floor, literally, and Blue passing, all the while the kid who is making such a stir does not seem to have an egotistical bone in his body. THIS is what is so exciting right now; we have drafted someone who can change the attitude of a whole team….look what Duncan did for the Spurs. I do believe THIS is what has Magic and Pelinka and most of us Laker fans are really so excited about. You can bet Jack will be at EVERY home game this year, and, though I never thought I would feel this way, I DO miss seeing the dude on the sidelines.

    Now, if I may add another two cents worth, PLEASE, no Cousins to muck it all up. Splitter, as mentioned above sounds interesting in the short term….A Davis down the road would be down right, over the top, freakin’ awesome!

    2+

    • I hear you Fulo !

      Though the future is not ours to see, there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying a moment which we have not had from a rookie in decades.

      2+

  60. Lonzo Ball is single-handedly reshaping the culture of the Lakers.

    0

  61. I think we are forgetting another future Lakers star…Jesse Buss!

    1+

  62. Lonzo’s game against DSJ was the 1st game I found encouraging. He did well against another pretty good looking prospect. I still would like to see Lonzo show more of a mid-range game but, this was pretty good besides the calf injury.

    0

  63. During the Pelinka interview in the game last night, – I actually missed most of it – but the announcer later said, that Pelinka stated that he was going to sign Vander Blue as our starting 2 guard for the regular season.

    I don’t know if it’s accurate, but if so, I’m glad that the young man is finally getting his shot at the big boy league.

    0

  64. For argument’s sake, if you were to remove Lonzo’s first summer league game from existence, he shot 43% from the field. Not great, but not awful. I think the nerves/pressure was too much for him in that first game b/c of the hype machine.

    He looked more comfortable on the court in all his other games, including the game he shot 6 for 20. While his shooting is somewhat of an issue, it’s his on-ball defense that should concern Laker fans.

    I would be pleased if he can shoot 43% during the regular season. Jason Kidd only did that one season his entire career — his first four years, he shot 39%, 38%, 40%, and 37%.

    0

    • Mostly on at the rim shots balancing out his poor shooting from range. His 3pt percentage up until this last game I don’t think he shot over 30% in any game despite shooting a ton of them. There were only a handful of mid range shots not offering a large enough sample to really see how he does in that regard. Yes he had triple double stats but, done very inefficiently. I am concerned about his on ball defense as well but, this last game was encouraging.

      0

      • Rick in Seattle July 19, 2017 at 11:55 am

        I realize there’s not much to talk about during the dog days of summer, but I’m not sure why the fans everywhere continue to over-analyze Lonzo. He is a work in progress like any rookie. He has strengths & weaknesses, He will continue to improve with time & good coaching. And with KCP now on the roster & ready to play along side Lonzo, we should begin to see a growing emphasis on defense

        Besides Lonzo, there are many, many other unknowns yet to be answered about this team,

        Training camp begins in about 2 1/2 months and should begin to help answer some of these questions. But at the present time the training camp roster is not even complete.

        I am not a glass-half-empty kind of guy, but there are lots & lots of concerns about this young team that need to resolved. We need to see how the aforementioned KCP fits with this young core. Same with Lopez. We have not seen much off Hart and Dozier. How will they fit? Will they fit?

        Are G-league players like Matt Thomas, Caruso, Blue, far enough along in their development to provide any help to the parent club? Does Bryant have a future with the parent club, or will we see him most of the year in the G-league?

        How much improvement will we see from Clarkson, Randle, Nance and Ingram? Does Brewer still have enough gas in the tank to provide anything (other than being a good locker-room mentor)? Is Zubac capable of bouncing back after a disappointing summer league?

        Until we have answers to some of these questions, making any assessments about this team will simply be a WAG. Any accurate assessment will be impossible. I like to speculate as much as the next guy, but its an empty conversation until we begin to have some real facts on which to base our opinions.

        If I sound like I’m ranting, my apologies. However, I truly believe we need to first arrive at a point where we have enough sound information to make an informed opinion. For the areas noted above, we don’t yet have sufficient information to make any personal assessments.

        0

  65. Clay Bertrand July 17, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Damn. No Lonzo tonight………..

    Enter THE GREAT CARUSO!!!!!!!!!!!

    0