Good morning! A piece of advice to the extremely outspoken Lavar Ball: Leave Lonzo alone.
As most of you know, I am not the avid fan of the NBA like I was during the years of Julius Erving (Dr. J), subsequently Michael Jordan (MJ) and a little bit for Kevin Garnett (KG). But my friend Mike is a Los Angeles Lakers fan. Personally I think he liked Kobe and the Lakers glory years and then just happened to hang around for the aftermath. Anywho, since I do a sports themed podcast with my friend Jeremy (Sports Stalkers on the Podbean app), we occasionally cross over into talking some NBA. Mostly these discussions center around the Jordan vs Lebron debates but sometimes there are farther reaching topics.
This year, starting with the beginning of 2017, one man made sizable waves on the NBA pond with outlandish claims about the impact of a player who had yet to play in the NBA. The funnier thing was that the father, not the player who was about to enter the NBA draft, was the person making all these claims. Now don’t get me wrong or take this out of context, the player entering the NBA draft (Lonzo Ball) had the rough skill set to jump from college to the pros. But his dad and his dad’s claims of being able to beat one of the sport’s legends back in his prime (Michael Jordan) were laughable. Laughable as it was, Lavar also knew that he could not definitively be proved wrong without a time machine. But crazy or clever or whatever, Lavar did then and still knows how to create a buzz in this social media frenzy society that exists today. So for knowing how to work the system of self-promotion we have to give him some sort of credit.
Crazy like a fox Lavar aside, Lonzo Ball can ball. As a 20 year old rookie in the NBA, the kid already has five double doubles (double digits in two statistical categories) and two triple doubles (three statistical categories with double digits). He is the youngest player ever to accomplish the latter. But let’s pump the brakes before we crown him the new ruler of the NBA.
Twenty-one games into this season so far (October and November 2017), Lonzo has started all 21 games his team has played at the Point Guard (PG) position. In those 21 games, his team has tasted victory 8 times to go with their 13 defeats. They sit 2.5 games behind the Utah Jazz (11-11) in the standing for the eighth position which is the last spot to qualify for the playoffs at the end of the season. Overall the team (Los Angeles Lakers) has more potential than in years past. The franchise last qualified for the playoffs in the 2012-2013 season. That campaign ended in a first round playoff defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs four games to zero.
In addition to Lonzo’s dub-dub and trip-dub numbers mentioned above, he has had some other bright spots. On October 20th in just his second game, he posted 29 points against the Phoenix Suns which is his high for this season so far. Also on November 17th he posted a five steal game, again against the Phoenix Suns. Granted these are nice accomplishments for a first year player but they also occurred against one of the league’s weaker teams that is giving up the most points per game (on average 115.8). On the flip side the kid has had some struggles which is to be expected. Lonzo is averaging 33.4 minutes per game which is impressive for a rookie to play almost 75 percent of his team’s game minutes. For the 21 games, he has scored 189 points and has 148 rebounds to go with 152 assists. His shooting percentages are not great. Overall he is shooting 31.5 percent from the field (made 74 of 235 shots) and that percentage dips from beyond the 3-point arc to 25.7 percent (made 27 of 105 shots). One area the kid will need to improve upon sooner rather than later is his free throw percentage of 46.7 percent (made 14 of 30 shots). He needs to ratchet that up to about 75 percent or greater to be in alignment with that position league-wide.
From a team perspective, the team has yet to win three consecutive games but has lost three in a row twice already. However, as the players acclimate to the league, their roles and the plays, they should get much better. What would make this transition a bit easier is if they could kind of hide in the background of the Lebron-Steph Curry league for a bit. This will not occur if Lavar Ball keeps opening his mouth or posting criticisms of the organization and the coaching. The old saying: Opinions are like sphincters. Everyone has them and most of them have an unpleasant odor…or something along those lines. Point being, if Lavar doesn’t let Lonzo take his lumps and learn and grow with the experiences, he may be the NBA’s version of Colby Rasmus from MLB.
For the casual sports fan who doesn’t know who Colby Rasmus is let me tell you. Colby came to the St Louis Cardinals in 2009. He had a ton of potential. When Colby was learning to play the game of baseball, his main ‘coach’ was his father. But when the Cardinals organization tried to work with him to try and help him, he refused to be agreeable. This caused a rift with himself and the coaching staff. Colby’s unwillingness to take instruction and direction ultimately led to him being traded out of St Louis during the summer of 2011 to Toronto (later that year the Cardinals went on to win the World Series). If you look at Colby’s career stats they are OK, not great but OK. Fast forward to the present: for a player who is now been in the league nine years, they aren’t superstar numbers. For his career he has never hit for a .300 average or hit more than 25 homeruns in a season. He doesn’t steal bases or walk a lot and he strikes out on average about once a game. He’s average. A good player but nothing special. Perhaps if he would’ve suppressed his own stubbornness and listened to the coaches in St Louis, maybe his career trajectory could’ve been something more significant, instead of being on his fourth club in nine years.
Aside from the tangent/analogy on Colby Rasmus, my advice to Lonzo is to talk to dad and say, “Hey, I got this. You can chill and do your own thing for awhile.” I say this because I do not see Lavar getting this idea or concept on his own radar any time soon. Being a professional athlete in any of the major sports is difficult and staying there is even more difficult. Lonzo can possibly grow his own brand and develop his own success. But his path is going to be more difficult with the huge target his father has placed on his back for no good reason except his father has a ego like few on the planet. Lavar back off and let the kid play. Don’t you have shoes to sell or something?
Everyone have a great start to the last month of 2017. Stay warm, stay sane and Merry Christmas or other applicable holiday to you!