Best Fits for Lonzo Ball
From the moment Big Baller Lavar Ball announced that his oldest son, Lonzo, was already better than 2-time NBA MVP Steph Curry, all eyes have been on the 6-6 point guard from Chino Hills, California. Lonzo starred at UCLA in his freshman year, leading the Bruins to 31 wins and a trip to the Sweet 16, while also earning consensus first-team All-American honors in the process. He averaged 14.6 points, 6 rebounds and 7.6 assists on 55% shooting, in route to becoming the most popular college basketball player in recent memory. Since declaring for the NBA Draft in March, Lonzo, along with his father and his $495 signature shoe, has remained one of the hottest topics of discussion in the basketball world.
After the NBA Draft lottery, Lonzo being drafted by the LA Lakers appeared to be a foregone conclusion. However, in recent weeks it appears the Lakers are not completely sold on Lonzo. If not selected by LA with the second pick, Lonzo could potentially fall as low as seven, as it is rumored that teams are unsure if he is better than fellow point guard prospects DeAaron Fox and Dennis Smith. Obviously, big markets like Los Angeles, New York and Miami would be best for Lonzo and the Big Baller Brand, but there are other teams that are a better fit for Lonzo the basketball player. For Lonzo, more so than any other player in this draft, fit will ultimately determine the trajectory of his career for the next four seasons. These three teams would be the best fit for Lonzo to grow into the player many scouts believe he can become.
Los Angeles Lakers
Similar to Lebron being drafted by Cleveland or Derrick Rose being selected by Chicago, Lonzo to the Lakers seems like fate. He already has a brand – his dad is must-see TV – and his brothers will be playing at UCLA. Also, let us not forget he’s been compared to Laker legend Magic Johnson who happens to be the team’s president of basketball operations. On the court, Lonzo and DeAngelo Russell could both share ball-handling duties like Portland’s Damien Lilliard and CJ McCollum or Washington’s Brad Beal and John Wall. The Lakers moved DeAngelo Russell to the shooting guard position toward the end of last season in preparation for playing next to Zo. He transitioned well averaging nearly 20 points and over 5 assists a night as a two guard. Head Coach, Luke Walton, wants to implement an offensive attack that mirrors the Golden State Warriors, and Lonzo’s unselfishness and three-point shooting (41% from three at UCLA) would be perfect for it. Furthermore, if Lonzo has an impressive rookie season, the Lakers’ 2018 free agent targets Paul George, LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins would be more likely to seriously consider calling the Staples Center home.
Eric Bledsoe had the best season of his career in 2016-17, but as usual he struggled with staying healthy. Over the past two seasons, Bledsoe has missed 67 games and with him turning 28 before year-end, signs point to him being injury plagued for the remainder of his career. Thus, Zo would be the perfect replacement for him, and the Suns can flip Bledsoe for a 3 and D wing like Milwaukee’s Tony Snell or a borderline All-Star like Jabari Parker. Ball would make the game easier for Devin Booker, as he has a knack for hitting shooters with the perfect pass (YouTube Bryce Alford’s 2017 UCLA highlights). Tyson Chandler is still one of the best in the league at diving to the basketball off the pick-and-roll. Zo would be sure to find him for his share of dunks off the lob pass. Phoenix has a young, athletic team that’s geared to play fast. Lonzo leading the fast break with Marquese Chriss and Derrick Jones on the wings with Devin Booker trailing for the three should bring back memories of the Nash and D’Antoni seven seconds or less era.
The Timberwolves have one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, but they are still a point guard away from bringing it all together. They drafted Kris Dunn last summer in hopes of him replacing Ricky Rubio, but he wasn’t capable of taking the job. If Minnesota can get Zo on draft night, the league may have its next great team out West. A starting five of Lonzo, Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng and Anthony-Towns would be terrifying in a few years. Even if the Wolves must give up Lavine, Dieng or both to move up to get Ball, a core of Wiggins, Lonzo and KAT still has the makings of something special. Unlike Rubio, Lonzo can knock down the open shot when Towns must pass out of a double team. Clearly, Lonzo is not a ball dominant point guard; therefore, Andrew Wiggins can still get his share of iso plays without compromising the offense. Lonzo is also very coachable, so Tom Thibodeau’s no-nonsense approach won’t be a problem. With Zo, the T’Wolves would bring back memories of those young OKC Thunder teams of Westbrook, Harden, and KD. However, for Minnesota fans’ sake, let’s hope for a happier ending.