The New Kidd on the Block has arrived. His name is Lonzo Ball, and so far, he damn sure looks like the real deal.
I’ll admit, I couldn’t and didn’t understand the hype surrounding Lonzo Ball coming out of UCLA this year. I knew the kid was good, but I couldn’t fully rationalize his game. His shot was awkward and his defense looked flimsy at best. Of course, I’m not in the LA market, so I only caught the occasional nationally televised game, college hoop highlight and scouting report vids. Oh yeah, and of course, Lonzo’s dad, Lavar. In fact, I probably saw more hightlights of Lavar than Lonzo.
I’ll also admit that after a week’s worth of NBA Summer League games (yes, I know, it’s just summer league!), Lonzo Ball looks like ‘Jason Kidd Lite.’ The potential is evident. Offensively, even with an awkward, sidewinder release, Lonzo has a more polished shot and far greater range than Kidd did entering the league. Lonzo’s not a lights out shooter (yet), but with the right coaching and a few seasons under his belt, the shot will come — he’s too slick on offense not to fully develop this part of his game. More importantly, Lonzo has the ball handling skills to create his own shot and create shots for his teammates — that kind of intuition can’t necessarily be taught.
Defensively, Lonzo may never turn into a one-on-one lockdown defender, but what is evident is that he possesses just the right amount of length to develop into one. Lonzo’s length allows him to not only block shots, but also jump the passing lane and create fast breaks for his team, lending to his up-tempo offensive style of play at the other end of the floor. Now that Lonzo’s officially a Laker and has access to the best professional handlers, with the right diet and weight training program, he’s destined to become a defensive force with a bit more bulk on his frame.
Passing-wise, Lonzo Ball is a star. His vision is like that of a flying eagle — very Jason Kidd like. Sometimes his passes can be deceptively flashy, but most times it’s simply the right play for the moment. Lonzo, like Kidd, knows how to push the tempo of the game and make quick decisions that often lead to buckets. Unlike Kidd though, Lonzo has access to one of the best passers in NBA history in Team President Magic Johnson at a very early stage of his career. It doesn’t get any better than that. What better way to embrace Showtime than to learn from Showtime himself.
If anyone is salivating right now, it has to be LeBron James, the free agent to be next summer. Lonzo is a pass-first point guard that fits perfectly into the King’s court. One thing’s for sure though, whoever walks through the doors of the Staple Center to join forces with Lonzo must now recognize, it’s his team and he’s the new draw. Period. Not only is Lonzo Ball the New Kidd on the Block, but he’s got The Right Stuff.
(This article was originally published on July 13, 2017)