Shooting 30 percent from the field, 22 percent from deep and just 46 percent from the free throw line, Los Angeles Lakers lottery pick point guard Lonzo Ball hasn’t resembled the sure-fire superstar his infamous father LaVar Ball promised he would be. The younger Ball has shot horribly from the field, played with a lack of passion and hasn’t made the positive impact for the Lakers (6-10) that fans would expect from a second overall draft choice. Thanks to hype stirred by LaVar Ball, the jury might be out too early on the Lakers’ newest leading man. Barely a quarter into the season and the question must be asked: Is Lonzo Ball a bust? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debate this question.
Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Riley: Lonzo Ball doesn’t have the typical agility and foot speed that you see from a prospect chosen in the top half of the first round and that may ultimately put a cap on his NBA ceiling. Considering the team that drafted him and the type of legends that have come before him, Ball was expected to fill in the shoes of the Kobe Bryants and Magic Johnsons of the purple and gold. It’s not looking that way so far and this choice bears the makings of a bust. All the pressure in the world is on Ball right now but, so far, he looks like just another guy wearing a Lakers uniform.
Green: I can’t label a guy a “bust” barely 20 games into the season, so I’ll refrain. And I️ disagree with your assessment of the kid’s game. He actually does have great agility and the foot speed needed to play on this level. The only thing I’ve seen go wrong so far for this kid is his jump shot. He has shown some decent qualities of a starting lead guard. His vision and ability to get players involved is already there, but the two things dragging him down (his shooting and aggressiveness) can be improved. Let’s not forget he dropped 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in just his second career game. It takes time to adjust to the NBA so everybody needs to just relax.
Riley: No one said he had to be LeBron James but it would be nice to get something remotely close to the excitement from a second overall draft choice. Ball looks shaken and frazzled on the court trying to figure out how to live up to the image that his father has created for him. Even a stat line of averages of 8.8 points, 6.8 assists and 6.6 rebounds would be plausible for most first-year amateurs but when you’ve been hailed as the second coming of Magic Johnson, we simply need more. We’re 20 games into the season and Ball already looks disinterested and dragging. It’s going to be a long season for the Lakers’ rookie.
Green: You said yourself that Ball’s averages would be acceptable for most rookies and they should be acceptable for him. He wasn’t a dominant scorer in college so it’d be foolish to think he would light the NBA ablaze. At UCLA, Ball was an exciting point guard who hit deep threes and got his entire team involved from his play-making. He’s still the same player in the league except that his shot isn’t falling right now. Eventually its going to start falling and everybody will have to shut up. Ball is going to be fine as a player who can get others clicking and can run a team. He’ll find his groove soon, so everyone will be able to chill on the bust talk.