Lonzo Ball is a special player.
There’s no doubt about it. The stuff Lonzo Ball does on the court helps teams win basketball games, and any team would surely welcome his talents to their team.
With the UCLA point guard, projected to go top 3 in the NBA Draft, there are only a handful of teams with a chance to acquire his services. Assuming the top 3 teams in the lottery stay as is, those teams that are in play for him are the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, and Boston Celtics.
Lonzo fits all three teams well, but the Los Angeles Lakers might just be the best fit both for the team and Lonzo.
If the Lakers retain their pick and draft Ball, how exactly will it fit with the current team?
The Lakers need another ball handler/playmaker to help initiate the offense.
While the Lakers already have a capable ball handler/playmaker in D’Angelo Russell, having an additional guard certainly helps the Lakers. The Lakers could use someone like Jordan Clarkson as that 2nd guard next to D’Angelo, but looking closer, it might be best he stays off the bench, where he can focus on scoring the ball.
According to Synergy Sports and @LakerFilmRoom, Jordan Clarkson only generates 0.82 PPP out of the pick and roll. That ranks in the 28th percentile. Not good. His main strength is coming off screens, generating around 1.19 PPP which is in the 90th percentile. So it might be best for Clarkson and the Lakers to keep his role as a scorer off the bench.
2. JC generates 0.82 PPP on his pick & rolls, which include his individual production + pass outs. That ranks in the 28th percentile.
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) March 5, 2017
As for Lonzo, he’s one of the best if not the best playmaker in college basketball. He leads the nation in total assists and assists per game. Lonzo Ball also ranks 2nd in the Pac-12 for most points produced, which speaks to his ability to well, make plays. His scoring is also something that is overlooked. He shoots 73.1% on 2-point field goal attempts which ranks as the third-best in the nation. His ability to hit the three-ball is great as well, shooting almost 42% from distance and it’s not like he’s benefitting from the college three-point line. A lot of the three point shots Lonzo takes are NBA-range, maybe even deeper. Video courtesy of Pac-12 Networks.
Lonzo Ball would greatly benefit D’Angelo Russell.
Lakers fans have long debated whether D’Angelo Russell is a point guard or a shooting guard. The way he plays the game doesn’t really give a definitive answer, but it seems like he is a “lead guard,” something like James Harden or even Kyrie Irving. Either way, he could greatly benefit with someone like Lonzo Ball. Russell has been good for the Lakers, but he could be even better with the right personnel around him.
The lack of spacing around D’Angelo slows the team down, and someone like Lonzo could easily space the floor even more. Having another ball handler like Ball also allows Russell to mix things up in terms of scoring off the ball and on the ball without disrupting the entire offense.
Lonzo Ball isn’t as good of a defensive prospect as someone like Josh Jackson, but he is a capable defender. He has some flaws when defending, but also has good defensive instincts. Ball is adept at anticipating passing lanes and has quick hands to stop transition baskets. He has trouble closing out and sliding on defense but is something that shouldn’t be difficult to fix. The full breakdown can be found here, courtesy of @LakerFilmRoom.
Lonzo is a can’t miss prospect.
His feel for the game is second to none and can certainly help out the Lakers. It also helps that Ball is a California native and playing in UCLA. He wouldn’t have to go very far for his new job and LaVar Ball would also approve. Is Lonzo Ball better than Markelle Fultz? Maybe, maybe not. One could argue however that he is the best fit for the Lakers moving forward.
*Featured Photo credits go to NBA and its respective owners*