Lonzo Ball. What comes to mind when you say his name? Is it his stats? Is it his calm demeanor on the court? Is it a no-look pass he regularly makes? It probably isn’t any of those things. The thought that comes to mind when you say Lonzo Ball is his braggart father, Lavar Ball. Which is unfortunate for Lonzo.
Basketball players are probably the most athletic players out of all the major sports in this country. No question in my mind about it, so when you examine Lonzo Ball’s game there is really no reason to believe that his game won’t translate to the NBA. Lonzo is athletic, can handle the ball well, and shoots the ball well.
Lonzo doesn’t appear to be one of those players that runs his mouth a lot during games, gets into arguments with his coach, or really contests calls from game officials. By all accounts, Lonzo Ball is a calm, cool, and collected player on the court. I have seen him play multiple times in person and that is my take away about him.
Deep down, Lonzo Ball knows that he is good at playing the game of basketball. Most players of his talent know that. Lonzo Ball has to show the people who will be deciding his future employment how good he is.
For a guy that averages 14.6pts/game, shoots 55% from the field, shoots 41% from three-point land, gets six rebounds a game, dishes out 7.6 assists a game, and only turns the ball over two times a game, it is not a shock that many NBA scouts and GM’s are salivating over the possibility of having Ball as their point guard.
Does the kid have any down side to him?
I see a few things that Lonzo Ball needs to be better at when he gets to The League.
First of all, his free throw percentage is not where a point guard needs to be. When your free throw is 67% that tells me that he may not be as reliable as he needs to be in tight situations. His free throw percentage should be in the 80-90 percentile range. A coach wants to have his best free throw percentage guys in the game, so the game gets closed out for the win. Ball has to get in the gym and work on this. I remember hearing Larry Bird saying he would shoot hundreds of free throws a day during the off-season to help his game. Hopefully, Lonzo is smart enough to realize that the off-season is where you get better.
Next, he needs to get in the weight room and put some bulk on his body. As much as he was free-wheeling up and down the court at UCLA and not really having to worry about be pushed around, the game at the professional level is more physical. With Lonzo’s slight build he can be knocked around at will by guys in the NBA. If Michael Jordan had to reshape his body, then Lonzo Ball can do the same thing.
Last, but certainly not least, he has to get his father to settle down with all of his arrogant talk about how good Lonzo and his brothers are going to be.
Anybody that has been to any sporting event on any level knows these types of fathers. These are the fathers that pace up and down bleachers, the field, can be heard from the stands yelling all sorts of things. Some of those comments may be positive and some may be not so positive.
“That’s my boy. Look at what my son did! My son is the point guard coach! My son is going to be better than Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.” These are things that parents have said, including Lavar Ball.
Lavar Ball is not doing Lonzo Ball any favors by proclaiming his kid is going to be the next great NBA legend. What he is doing, is putting a huge target on his son’s back when he steps on any NBA court. Fans will through jabs at him, the players on the court will, even the media will through criticism his way if things don’t go according to his father’s plan.
Lonzo is going to have to be mentally tougher than he is now. Student sections would let Lonzo have a few choice sayings during a game. Now, it’ll be the whole arena. Imagine what those fans in New York, Chicago, or even Los Angeles will say if he doesn’t have some success out of the gate? The media will be even worse.
There haven’t been any NBA general managers who have publicly said they would not draft Lonzo Ball because of his father. Not yet anyways, but I bet there are a few who have expressed it privately.
Don’t get it twisted. I think Lonzo Ball has the game to a good NBA player, but something has to be done about his father.
Lonzo needs to tell his father that he needs to button up. This isn’t about Lavar and his 2.2 points per game Washington State average. It’s about his son and wanting to help him be successful.
It’s ok to be a proud father. Anybody who is a dad knows this. However, when your son’s or daughter’s success is in the balance, you shut your mouth publicly. My suspicion is that Lavar won’t change. You can’t get a zebra to change his stripes.
Lavar, for the sake of your son, shut up.