Outside of names such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook, the name you’ve probably heard the most is Lonzo Ball. Whether it be ESPN, or his loudmouthed father Lavar Ball, the rookie’s name has been plastered all over television and numerous social media platforms almost daily over the last several months.
Now a rookie playing point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, Ball began the calendar year as one of the top players in all of college basketball. He led the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to the Sweet 16 where they fell to Kentucky 86-75. A few months later, he was drafted second overall by the Lakers, and thus the “Ball era” officially began in LA.
Moments after being taken with the second pick, Lavar Ball and Lonzo Ball were standing side by side being interviewed by NBA insider Jeff Goodman. But it was Lavar Ball, not Lonzo Ball, fielding all the questions. It’s rare to see this kind of act in any sport, but when your father is an attention craving person, as we witnessed all winter long, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone that he was in the spotlight. Lavar Ball answered every question, including one focused on what Lonzo Ball can bring to the team.
“I’ll tell you what, Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs his first year, come see me when he does.”
Yikes. The uncomfortable look that Lonzo Ball gave immediately after echoed the feeling. They’re lofty expectations for a 20-year-old rookie to live up to, considering he’s yet to play a single game with the organization. On top of that, the Lakers are still in the process of rebuilding, with many analysts predicting they won’t make the playoffs again this season. That’s not too far-fetched, considering the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2013 and hasn’t eclipsed 26 wins since that mark either. They also struck out on landing now Oklahoma Thunder forward Paul George, who was linked to the Lakers this offseason.
The main point is this: you have to feel a little for the rookie. On top of Lavar Ball’s comments on draft day, the father has said many other things about how great his son can be and has set the bar extremely high for a player who, while talented, will take time to develop.
After a debut which saw Lonzo Ball post a line of three points, four assists, nine rebounds and two turnovers, the rookie was called out by Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley, and of course the first to respond was Lavar Ball. To sum up his words, he basically said the only reason people know of Beverley is because he was defending Lonzo Ball throughout the night. Lavar Ball needs to quit putting this much pressure on his son. Let him play and stop pounding him with these unrealistic (as of now) expectations.
Lonzo Ball will not turn into a superstar overnight. He may even underwhelm (to his father’s expectations at least) in his first season. I’d expect him to. But it doesn’t mean he won’t be great; give him time and don’t root for him to fail. People don’t like Lonzo Ball largely in part because of those people, but don’t be one of them. The NBA needs a new wave of young stars, and if Lonzo Ball makes some adjustments in his play, he could be one of the next ones.