A thought ran through my mind today: What if Lonzo Ball never pans out? What will the Los Angeles Lakers do then? This is just his rookie season, but he has yet to fully grasp the NBA game. This is not UCLA, where college players were in awe of his physical gifts. No, this is the big time, where almost every player in the league was that special on their college team.
On the season, Ball is averaging just 8.6 points, but he has made up for that by dishing out 7.1 assists and grabbing 6.8 rebounds. The issue Ball and the Lakers are facing for the future is his shooting. What if Ball never reaches the level that Jason Kidd did after his dismal rookie year? With all the hype his father threw his way, it’s a strong possibility that he could very well become the next Michael Carter-Williams.
Carter-Williams was to become the face of the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers and after a ROY season, the 76ers had enough and shipped him off. While the 76ers caught plenty of heat for that move, the Lakers could find themselves in the same situation soon enough.
While Ball still has a chance, the question is, how much time are the Los Angeles Lakers willing to give him?
This is not Kobe Bryant shooting three straight airballs in Utah or D’Angelo Russell putting Nick Young’s personal business in the street, but Ball’s game has been more down than up this year. The only reason I ask this is due to the track record of the Los Angeles Lakers lately. After Kobe left, the team was to fall into the hands of Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle. However, nothing ever goes as planned in Hollywood.
Lonzo Ball had 3 steals and 4 blocks tonight. Kobe Bryant had just 1 game with at least 3 steals and 4 blocks in his career (April 2013 against the Trail Blazers). pic.twitter.com/xYFhICuupy
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 8, 2017
Things got so bad in Los Angeles that Russell was shipped out, Clarkson and Randle are in heavy trade rumors, and even their top player at the moment, Brandon Ingram, may lose his job to Paul George in 2018. And these are players who actually were or is producing for the Lakers. So, what is Ball supposed to expect? His struggles may not lead to a trade this or next year, but what happens in year three if he still can’t shoot better than 33 percent?
To add more intrigue to it is his father, LaVar Ball. Compared to Lonzo’s time at UCLA, the elder Ball has been quiet, but little by little he’s starting to make his presence felt, and that may cause a bigger issue down the road. According to ESPN, the Lakers and LaVar had a meeting to discuss his criticism of Luke Walton. It’s one thing to have a top pick who can’t shoot, but to add an annoying father to the issues could lead Magic Johnson to wash his hands of the situation and start over yet again.
Johnson has it in his mind that the Lakers can still be a top free agent draw. And while he might be correct, truth be told, playing with Ball is not the reason players would don the Lakers jersey. Rookies struggle all the time, but it’s something about Lonzo’s struggles that are a bit different. It seems that many are praying for the fall of the young Ball, and while he has his supporters, he might be on thin ice in Los Angeles and may not even know it.
The Lakers have a rich history of winning and a list of future and current Hall of Famers in Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant. With that history, are fans somehow supposed to watch Lonzo Ball stink up the court for four years or more? No. This is not how things work in in Lakerland, and if he doesn’t get it together, he may find himself in Lithuania with his brothers.