NBA Draft Profile: Lonzo Ball
Key Stats:14 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 7.6 APG
Measurables:6’6, 190 pounds
The best pure point guard prospect in this year’s draft, Lonzo Ball brings an intriguing skillset to the NBA. His best selling point is his size. At 6’6 with length and athleticism for the position Lonzo ball easily sees the floor as well as over the top of defenders. When watching Lonzo play it almost feels like he is three steps ahead of the defense, whether it is making full court passes or making plays in the half court. In transition opportunities, he excels at throwing the ball up the floor for wings to make easy decisions and he finishes at the rim. Ball also has the ability to rip and go with the rebound. His pick and roll game is the best we have seen since Jason Kidd’s days at Cal. Defensively, he won’t overwhelm teams with physicality, however, his length and IQ makes him hard to break down and get to the teeth of the defense. His on-ball defense is good and his off the ball defense is great. Ball has good anticipation and is able to play the passing lanes well and often ends up in the right spot at the right time on drives and close outs. Some people are concerned about Ball’s weight but that should not be an issue as there are not a lot of big bruising point guards in the NBA.
Lonzo’s success will hinge on his jumpshot and ability to score in the NBA. Ball can finish at the rim, has a solid layup package and a variety of off balance floaters in his offensive repertoire. However, when he gets to the league the scouting report will say, “Make Lonzo shoot.” At UCLA, the majority of his three pointers came as stand still open shots or step backs from beyond the three-point line. With his funky release the question is not if he can shoot but rather can he get his shot off against NBA competition. Ball also showed a lack of a midrange jumper in college mostly because he was either shooting a three or getting up close and personal with the basket. Many people will bring up his father LaVar as a potential red flag but Lonzo is his own person and there was no indication that LaVar was involved with UCLA at any level. On the next level, Lonzo will have to prove he can take and make “scoring type” (i.e. midrange jumpers, step backs) shots because teams will not allow him to load up that shot to let it fly. If he can do that then Ball will be able to use his elite passing to make those around him better and have a long and successful career.
Best Team Fit:
The dream scenario is for the kid from California is to be drafted by the man his game is patterned after in Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. This is the best situation for Ball because drafting him will allow D’Angelo Russell to move to his natural shooting guard position and allow head coach Luke Walton to really play the style of basketball he wants. Imagine a Julius Randle pick and roll with Russell in the corner and Larry Nance Jr. coming behind to clean up any misses, his unselfishness paired with Magic Johnson running the show will attract star free agents (Paul George) and bring L.A. back to the top where they belong.
NBA Player Comparison:
Best case scenario Ball is next in a long line of great passing point guards like Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, and John Stockton, players whose passing was so great that it compensated for their lack of scoring aggression. Ball may never be a 20 point per game scorer but I see a guy who will consistently get double doubles and resurrect any franchise that drafts him. The worst case scenario is that Ball is another Ricky Rubio, a point guard with great passing skills but whose scoring nature is so unaggressive that he will be no more than a starter for mediocre ball clubs As stated before, his scoring demeanor will determine his success in the NBA. Either way he is my number 1 pick and the best player in this draft.