Lonzo Ball: NBA Hall of Fame Class of 2040
Lonzo Ball has received a lot of hate so far in his young career. A lot of it is related to his dad. A lot of it is his basketball game. Many people thought the Lakers were crazy drafting Lonzo second overall because of his poor shooting and paternal influence. I’m here to tell you that if you separate the kid from the dad, you’ll be witness to a Hall of Fame career in the making.
The biggest knock on Lonzo Ball is his shooting skills. I’m not here to argue that he’s a good shooter. Not only is his style unorthodox, it’s produced a shooting percentage of 36% (and 30% from behind the arc). However, poor shooting isn’t the end of the world, especially for a 20 year old kid. I remember another young NBA player who’s perimeter shooting was a concern for his game: Lebron James. Coming out of high school, Lebron’s perimeter shooting game was lacking. He only shot 29% from 3 point range his rookie year. Slowly, he’s improved his game. Now, his last two seasons have produced 3 point percentages of 36+%. While 36% isn’t lighting the world on fire, it’s certainly a number that shows he deserves respect from three. And there’s no reason to think that Lonzo can’t get there too if he works hard enough. His shooting percentages are also down due to needing to adjust to the faster pace of the NBA. At UCLA, Lonzo shot 72% on 2-point field goals and 41% on threes. Clearly, he has the shooting ability to succeed in the NBA. He just needs time to figure out the speed and timing. When you’re 20, that can sometimes take more than a few games.
Lonzo’s stock as an NBA player is also hurt by what it means to be a point guard in today’s NBA. There are so many point guards today who put up insane scoring numbers. So when you have Lonzo, who averages 10 points a game, people are concerned. However, points guards don’t need to put up insane scoring numbers. Let’s look at a relatively recent point guard: Steve Nash. Steve Nash is going to be inducted this fall into the Hall of Fame. His career stat line is 14.3 ppg, 3 rpg, and 8.5 apg. None of those numbers stand out as exceptional. He never averaged 20 ppg or 12 apg in a season. However, he was a two time MVP, 8-time All Star, and 7-time All-NBA. Why? Because he was a point guard in the more traditional sense. He was a facilitator. Something that Lonzo is great at when you watch him play. Lonzo also has something that Steve Nash didn’t have: Rebounding ability. Lonzo was rated the fourth best rebounding point guard in the NBA last season according to ESPN. His rebounding and passing skills more than make up for what some consider poor point production.
Lonzo Ball’s stat line after his rookie year was 10.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, and 7.2 apg. Certainly good numbers for someone who was only 2 years removed from high school. And numbers that will definitely improve over time. His 7.2 apg is especially impressive when you consider that his team was made up of a bunch of role players. Now add some star power (Like, oh I don’t know, Lebron James) and you have a young point guard ready to explode on the scene. Lonzo isn’t someone who’s going to take over the game. He’s not going to drop 35 points or heat up and hit three after three. But, he’s a great facilitator who’s only going to make the people around him better. He’ll snag rebounds, make the flashy one handed pass in the lane, and even hit a few shots. It may not seem like it now, but his career trajectory has him landing in the Hall of Fame.
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)