If Lonzo Ball’s trek through the NBA’s Summer League is over, he accomplished more than anyone expected. The 19-year-old has lived up to every bit of the hype surrounding his highly-scrutinized young career. The second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft came, he saw and he balled.
The Los Angeles Lakers have to be thrilled with what they’ve seen so far. On Sunday night, Ball finished with 16 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, one steal and zero turnovers in just 21 minutes. Oh, and he had this awesome slap pass. He left in the third quarter tightness in his right calf, and stayed on the bench for the remainder of the Lakers 108-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
After a shaky start to Summer League, the Lakers will play the Portland Trail Blazers in the final Monday night. Ball may or may not make an appearance in the contest, and even if we’ve seen the last of him in Las Vegas, the UCLA product has been the story of the summer in basketball.
In six Summer League games, Ball finished with 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 9.3 assists and 2.5 steals in 32.5 minutes per game. Yes, it’s only Summer League, so those stats are largely meaningless, but the kid from Chino Hills has shown some undeniable traits that will immediately translate to the NBA.
Lakers fans should rightly be excited about Ball’s vision, passing ability and feel for the game. The level of competition he faces won’t change any of that. His ball-handling and finishing around the rim have also been impressive. Additionally, the way he gets teammates involved and pushes the ball up the floor consistently should make the young Lakers better immediately. And it’s clear his teammates love being on the floor with him.
Yes, there are issues. Ball’s shooting form is still a mess, and he certainly needs to clean it up. He still must get stronger to take the pounding he’ll face night in and night out in the league. And while he has the length and athleticism to become a very good defender, at this point he’s far too upright when guarding on the ball.
Those warts aside, what we’ve seen over the last two weeks has given us all reason too believe Lonzo is the real deal. Will he be an All-Star? A superstar? A Hall of Famer? No one knows, but for the first time in a long time, Lakers fans have a legitimate reason for hope.