Archives For Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle each possess unique traits at their respective positions. Lonzo is a game-changing outlet passer who rebounds extremely well for a Point Guard, while Ingram and Randle are exceptional ball-handlers for their size, and a handful in transition. Their collective offensive potential is full of both exciting possibilities and potential concerns about their long term compatibility.

In the first Laker Film Room video for Forum Blue & Gold, I went back through the entire 2016-17 season’s worth of footage to see where Ingram and Randle progressed, thrived, and struggled, while combing through Lonzo’s Summer League to project forward into the 2017-18 season. Their collective ability in transition could make the Lakers one of the most exciting fast break teams in the NBA from Day 1, but questions regarding the outside shooting of Ingram and Randle, as well as the individual scoring ability of Lonzo Ball could be problematic in half court situations. Continue Reading…

When the Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the benefits were twofold. Not only did they clear some of the cap space necessary to realize their two-max dreams in 2018 Free Agency, but they also acquired a dependable scorer who could anchor the half court offense and allow younger players to grow at a more appropriate pace.

Lopez’s reported back issues may be throwing a wrench into those plans, causing him to miss part or all of the preseason, and the Lakers can ill-afford to lose him beyond that.  Continue Reading…

Over the past couple of weeks there were rumors of Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball working out with an all-time great at the position (and former Laker) Steve Nash. While Lonzo’s father made some bombastic comments regarding what Nash could teach his son — in the process, dismissing the supposed workout entirely — Lonzo has now gone on record confirming the session took place.

Beyond that, Lonzo provided real insight into what he and Nash worked on and how valuable he found the former MVP’s tutelage. Via Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk:

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Lonzo may be the most exciting rookie to come to the Lakers since Kobe. Recent top picks Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram had similar pedigree to Ball, but none had as much hype and translatable skill coming into their rookie campaigns.

However, the part of Ball’s game that does translate — his passing and general feel for the game — isn’t what will set his ceiling. After all, we’ve seen plenty of top flight passers over the last 10-15 years (most notably Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio) who have had very good NBA careers (Rondo was an all-star and a key player on a title winning team), but not been transcendent players. The part of their game that never caught up to that next level passing and feel was their scoring.

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It’s been a minute since our last podcast, so Pete and I had a little ground to cover. In our latest, we talk some of the roster moves in the last couple of weeks — specifically wondering if Tyler Ennis is really going to be the backup PG and if Vander Blue can make the final roster.

We also get into whether Lonzo can truly be a culture changer on the floor, or if he might experience some culture clash with some veterans who’s style of play to this point might not jibe as much with how Lonzo will try to play. We specifically talk Randle, Clarkson, and Lopez and how used they are to being ball dominant players.

Lastly, we get into Kyle Kuzma and whether he should get minutes at SF considering the glut of guys who will need to see minutes at PF while also understanding how shallow the team is on the wing behind Ingram. It’s a good discussion and it was good to be back talking Lakers basketball with Pete.

Click through to give the entire show a listen.

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There has been a lot of fawning over Lonzo Ball lately and…I’m going to keep the trend alive today. Ball’s summer league wasn’t just impressive because he put up good numbers or that he ended up winning the MVP. It’s not even that the team won the Vegas championship. Of course those things matter, but it being the summer, what was more important to me was the process of how those things came about, not necessarily that they came about at all.

Which brings us back to Lonzo and the small things he was doing on multiple possessions a game which ended up helping his team.

A quick tangent, I don’t watch much soccer anymore, but I was a junkie when I was a kid. I played all the time and watched the game a ton. Soccer helped me understand basketball better, especially the concepts of counter attacks and creating advantage by passing into space. While soccer helped me with hoops in other ways too (angles, understanding foot work and quick ball movement), it was these ideas of taking advantage of spacing with passing and countering your opponent which stuck with me for a long time.

This brings me back to Lonzo and his summer league play. My podcast partner Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room fame recently made a video that he describes as a compilation of “any pass that Lonzo Ball made in summer league which gave the Lakers an advantage”. Pete adds that the pass did not need to lead to an assist directly, but was just a pass which looked like it gave the Lakers an edge on any given play. You should watch it:

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The Lakers may have won the summer league championship on the strength of Kyle Kuzma’s championship game performance (30 points, 10 rebounds — which fell in line with his strong play this summer overall), but Lonzo Ball was the MVP of the Las Vegas league.

The Lakers rookie PG averaged 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists and dazzled fans nightly with a combination of his basketball IQ and feel as a passer. We wrote about how special Lonzo is, but sometimes words just don’t do it justice. Only seeing what this kid was doing — especially as a passer — can give you the appropriate appreciation.

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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.

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