Lonzo Ball’s Learning Curve Is On The Upswing

At 21-years old, Lonzo Ball is slowly silencing the haters who counted him out after one NBA season.  

When it comes to Lonzo Ball reaching the level of expectations that his father and the media set for him, he gets cut no slack. 

As the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, the hype train that Ball rode in seemed to have crashed and burned early in the 2018 season. LeBron James arrived and Ball was constantly mentioned in potential trade talks involving another superstar to pair with the King.


It was a bad sign. Trading Zo would be an admittance by Magic & Co. that drafting him was a mistake.

Still, Ball remains a Laker despite the trade smoke constantly being thrown his way. Call it the basketball savvy and patience of Magic Johnson at work. Or maybe the disinterest of possible trade partners. Maybe even the increased commitment of LeBron to Ball’s development.

Ball doesn’t sit on the bench in the fourth quarter, in a shooting shirt, as a bystander to greatness anymore. He’s an integral part of the Lakers’ growing success. Lonzo’s even dunking like Bron these days.


We got a glimpse into what “Ball at his best” will look like in the future during Saturday night’s 128-100 beatdown of the Charlotte Hornets.  James and Ball both notched triple-doubles and became the first teammates to do so wearing purple and gold since Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1982.


They also became the 8th tandem in NBA history to record a triple-double in the same game. Now that LaVar is focused on Melo Ball’s career at SPIRE Institute, the world is getting to know the real Lonzo Ball. He’s respectful, chill, highly competitive and he has a mean streak that most of us didn’t know existed. 

Ball is developing an all-around game that will complement LeBron magnificently once the second-year player finds some consistency.  After his big night on Saturday, Zo regressed with a pedestrian 10-5-4 stat line in a blowout loss to Washington on Sunday night. He’s getting there though. 

At his best, he gives the Lakers another playmaker. Once they secure two more big-time scorers, the magic of Ball will truly be illuminated in LA’s style of play. 


At 18-12, the Lakers are in contention for a Top 5 seed in the playoffs. If they want to ascend any higher in the rankings, guys such as Ball have to bring the ruckus every night as LeBron does. 

Draft busts don’t put up triple-doubles, so we can erase that description from the list of words describing Zo in his second year in the NBA. There’s no better example than the way he and John Wall went at it on Sunday night. As Zo gets more confident and vocal, he will begin to earn the respect of superstars who wanted to rip his throat out during his rookie season. 


At 21 years old, Ball’s potential is off the charts. And along with the advantage of playing with LeBron who will do all of the heavy lifting (for now), the future’s still bright for one of the most polarizing players the NBA has ever seen.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.