Elite talent matters. They can reverse outcomes. They can sell tickets. They can make a non-playoff team a playoff team in a matter of months. If you are a 6-6 point guard and the best high school player in the country, and then wind up in the lap of the good life at UCLA, and then as a freshman you go into Kentucky and beat them on their home floor and the next week beat Michigan, and two months later you beat the #4 team in the country Arizona, and most scouts have you as the number one pick in the 2017 draft, NBA teams are going to salivate and hyperventilate and try to jockey to get you, jockey being a passive phrase to say tank.
That is expected.
But. Sometimes your father gets over the top crazy about your potential in the NBA. It’s not really a crime to believe your kid is the greatest of all time but sometimes less is more. LaVar Ball, father of Lonzo Ball, freshman extraordinaire, actually said Lonzo was better that Steph Curry.
“He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”
He then had a chance to walk it back but he doubled down by saying Curry would have to guard Lonzo and would come up short. His point was not original. Curry struggles on the defensive end. Ball is a 6-6 guard. But comparing Ball to Curry and saying Ball is going to be better is saying he is going to be a two-time MVP, a NBA champion, and the best three point shooter in NBA history.
LaVar Ball is being unfair to his son, putting more pressure on him than he deserves. Great players have elite talent but they also have injury luck, are drafted by the right team, are in the right situation. In other words, it is a perfect storm.
LaVar Ball wasn’t done talking. A week after the my son is better than Steph talk dropped he moved on to another subject: the Lakers. The Ball family are local products. LaVar raised more than an eyebrow when he said his son was going to be a Laker. He was only going to play for the purple and gold. The End.
“I want him to be a Laker. He’s going to be the first home grown and trust me he’ll do the same thing he’s doing at UCLA.” (KCUB Sports Radio 1290, Tuscon)
LaVar Ball needs a quick tutorial on the NBA lottery. The Lakers have a top-3 protected lottery pick. If they get the number 4 draft slot the 76ers get their pick and they are out of the lottery altogether. Furthermore, even if they are in the lottery, unless they get the #1 pick, Lonzo Ball may be someone else’s Xmas present. This isn’t a Kobe Bryant situation where Bryant’s inner circle could scare off the Nets from drafting him because he wanted to be in L.A. and John Calipari needed to save his job. Lonzo Ball is just too good a prospect for teams to be frightened into not picking him.
Lonzo Ball is a modern version of Jason Kidd. He has all the gifts. He sees the court. He hits players in their spot. He can drive by, stop in the paint and pitch the ball behind him for a wing player to drop a three. He can pass while in the air and hit his target. He is big enough to finish through contact though most times he doesn’t have to. He surveys the floor and picks out who has the best chance at making a play. He is not about himself and he isn’t really a combo guard. He can hit a Steph Curry like three with ease but only when necessary. He makes others better first. On defense, if he makes a bad pass or play he runs in transition to try to get a stop. He doesn’t have Westbrook energy but he is in the same ballpark. He’s a talent that will be around for a decade if he doesn’t get injured.
Dynamic point guards are the bread and butter of championship basketball. Let’s look at the contenders and where their point guards were drafted. Steph Curry, 7th. Kyrie Irving, 1st. Chris Paul, 4th. James Harden 3rd. Russell Westbrook, 4th. Most of today’s All-Star point guards were top of the lottery finds which makes the Lonzo Ball sweepstakes that much more competitive and cut throat. Landing him means it is suddenly Christmas.
Here’s a list of the desperate who are not the Lakers who Lonzo Ball may play with in 2017-18.
Dallas: They waived Deron Williams. They are going with a D-league product Yogi Ferrell, a six foot point who is a 43% distance shooter. He’s a stopgap but he’s not Lonzo Ball.
Philadelphia: The Process has a blind spot. Guards. The 76ers traded away Elfrid Payton on draft night and have cobbled together a bunch of guards who would only start on the 76ers. The Sixers start T.J. McConnell who is shooting 21% from three and is good for 6 points a game.
Timberwolves: Forget Kris Dunn who has struggled all year and looks lost. Lonzo Ball may not be a better defensive player but he has a higher level of point guard skills, can orchestrate, can lead, has mental toughness and has a great feel for the game that Dunn may grow into but hasn’t exhibited yet. There is a reason the Wolves have held on to Ricky Rubio. They have to, despite the Wolves having the second worst point guard production in the league, 13 points.
Sacramento Kings: The combo of point guards for Sac is what you would expect to find on a lottery team. Darren Collison and Ty Lawson don’t make anyone lose sleep except the Kings front office. They both belong on the bench. The Kings need a starting point who can run the show and make the team look like a cohesive unit instead of five players who just showed up to play a game.
LaVar Ball has walked back his comments on the Lakers and went to the I-was-misquoted-card.
“All i said was that my boy is going to play for the Lakers and I’m going to speak it into existence. I want him to be a Laker but I wasn’t saying he’s only going to play for the Lakers.”
photo via llananba