Lonzo Ball is the most talked about rookie since LeBron James. ESPN cant go an hour without mentioning his name, Magic Johnson already plans to retire his jersey, and all of this is on top of the immense pressure his father LaVar has put on him since before he suited up for UCLA.
In the face of all of this, Lonzo does what he always does, he sticks to his laid back demeanor and then he goes out and balls.
Lonzo was named MVP of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League after averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 assists (a summer league record), and 7.7 rebounds per game. Yet after his first game, in which he looked nothing like a sensation, there was a debate as to whether he was truly ready to not only be in the league, let alone a player that the historically proud Lakers could build around.
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Since before the draft, back when his father was the main story on nearly every sports talk radio and TV show, most people thought they had Lonzo all figured out. He was labeled as a player with incredible court vision, but one with an impractical shot. Some said he didnt possess the elite-level quickness that was needed to blow by his defenders at the next level.
And of course, some were critical for reasons beyond basketball, wanting to see him fail because of his outspoken father.
After he was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Lakers in June, there were an enormous amount of expectations placed on him. For his games in Vegas, the Los Angeles faithful showed up in full force to see if the hype was for real around the supposed new face of the franchise.
In that aforementioned first game, Lonzo went 2-15 from the field. It was a miserable start to his career. Twitter was riddled with memes and users mocking the Big Baller Brand. Aside from a few decent passes, Lonzo severely underwhelmed. He was able to notch a triple-double in his second outing, which quieted some of the naysayers, but his continued struggles with shooting the ball remained a subject of ridicule.
That all changed when he switched his shoes.
After playing in the first two games wearing his own Big Baller Brand footwear, he switched to Nike, sparking a national commotion. Lonzo had his best game, recording 36 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds to go along with a clutch performance to seal a win.
There was very little for those who had doubted him to say after that. Lonzo was able to display how NBA-ready he actually is, proving his All-Star potential. His ability to pass the ball creates jaw dropping highlights, easy looks at the basket, and makes his team better as a whole.
Outside of the highlights, the intangibles are the reason Magic called him the new face of the franchise.
From a pure basketball standpoint, Lonzo is fascinating. An unselfish 6-foot-6 floor general who can push the pace of the game, run an offense, and pull up from 30 feet away is tailor-made for todays NBA.
Every time he steps on the floor hes a triple-double threat. However, there are still large holes in his game. With the amount of elite NBA point guards, his early weaknesses will get exposed on a nightly basis, but his growth potential is what has Laker fans most excited.
Outside of basketball hes still a captivating story even if its just about his shoes. After ditching the triple Bs, Lonzos game-by-game courtship with sneaker companies was mainstream news.
One night hed wear Kobes, then adidas and Under Armour, followed by Jordan Brand. This became such a big deal that ESPN felt the need to chart his stats while wearing each individual brand.
With constant coverage around him, even casual sports fans know who he is.
The NBA draft is the most interesting draft in sports so we sent Guillermo to Barclays Center in Brooklyn to help Jimmy interview the number two pick by the Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo Ball.
Lonzo is a star in the making. He proved it on the court during summer league, and he, along with his father, have proven it off.
There will be bidding war to come between sneaker companies vying for his services and when you factor in his wow factor on and off the floor, hell continue to be topic of conversation before he even plays his first real game as a rookie.
That translates into people buying tickets to go see the Lakers, at Staples Center and on the road, and a relevance that the franchise has been in desperate of ever since Kobe retired.
The kid sold out summer league for God’s sake! That never happens.
Pair that with the most triple-doubles ever in a summer league and you have one intriguing rookie. The Lakers may not be great next year, but the future is certainly bright, especially with a true Big Baller as their new face.