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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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So, it’s Kobe’s birthday. He’s 39 years young today and to celebrate the NBA posted this tremendous video of Kobe’s top play against every team he ever faced. What’s a nice touch is that we actually get multiple plays against some franchises who have moved or re-branded. So we get the Charlotte Hornets and the Bobcats, the Vancouver and Memphis Grizzlies, etc.

This thing is 11 minutes of pure fun. Seriously, sit back and enjoy.

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So, we’re in the dog days of summer and, as is the yearly ritual, it’s time to take a bit of a break from the game before things ramp up again in September with training camp and then preseason. Usually, the lack of news makes stepping away a bit easier.

Things are less easy, though, when friend of the site LD2K drops fire videos to get you excited about next season. I mean, how am I supposed to relax when this comes on?

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is one of the best pro-am summer leagues anywhere. Current and former pros — mostly LA natives, but also other players from around the league — show up often and play with/against some really talented players who aren’t NBA players, but can really ball.¬†Every year, then, getting out to the Drew to watch some quality hoops is a staple of LA based basketball fans.

One name who’s shown up the last couple of years is the Lakers own Julius Randle. The Lakers starting PF was there this past weekend and put on quite a show in helping his team (with fellow NBA’ers DeMar DeRozan and Nick Young) pull out the win.

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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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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.

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When friend of the site and video producer extraordinaire LD2K comes out of “retirement” to drop a Lonzo Ball gem, of course I’m going to show it some love here at FB&G. Happy to present – The Ball Prophecy: Rise of the Lakers:

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