Lakers Nation NBA Draft Profiles: Lonzo Ball, UCLA

Lakers Nation NBA Draft Profiles: Lonzo Ball, UCLA

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Lonzo Ball

Height: 6’6
Weight: 190 lbs.
Wingspan: 6’7
School: UCLA
Position: Point Guard
Class: Freshman

Statistics

PPG: 14.6 RPG: 6.0 APG: 7.6 SPG: 1.8 BPG: 0.8 FG%: 55.1 3PT%: 41.2 FT%: 67.3

Strengths

Lonzo Ball’s strengths start with his elite level passing ability. He is an extremely unselfish player who consistently creates great looks for his teammates do to his outstanding court vision. He sees the floor exceptionally well and can make all levels of passes with either hand. He is an excellent ball-handler which allows him to get to his preferred spots on the floor.

Speaking of those spots, they are everywhere. He has unlimited range on his jump shot despite the unorthodox form, and isn’t averse to pulling up from well behind the three-point line Steph Curry style.

Ball is a high IQ player who does a great job of recognizing when to set up teammates and when to look for his own shot. His assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding for a young player and despite being the focal point of UCLA’s offense, doesn’t hold on to the ball too long and constantly keeps the ball moving in the flow of the offense. He has also shown the ability to play off the ball, thriving as both a spot-up shooter, and cutter when the defense overplays him.

Ball is at his best in transition where all of those strengths are on full display. He is a good rebounder, which allows him to start the break himself either with the dribble or by pushing it up with an early outlet pass.

Lonzo has great size for the point guard position which allows him to find shooters and cutters and rebound the ball well for his position. He also does a good job of creating turnovers on defense with his length and anticipation skills.

Weaknesses

For as excellent as Ball is in transition, there are some questions about his ability to consistently create in half-court sets. He is not a great isolation player and can struggle to get in the paint regularly due to a number of factors.

Ball has an average first step and while he has good athleticism, it is more effective when he is able to build up speed and momentum in transition. Without the momentum, he doesn’t have the strength to make up for his separation struggles in the halfcourt.

There are also some questions about his defense. He doesn’t quite have the quickness to keep smaller guards in front of him on a regular basis and has also struggled to get through screens at times. Many have looked at his struggles to contain Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox in their Sweet 16 matchup as proof of these issues on the biggest stage.

There have been some worries about Ball’s shooting form, even though he has always been an outstanding shooter. He has shown the ability to get his shot off at any level to this point, but the fact that he brings the ball so low will bring concerns about getting blocked or stripped against some of the better defenders the NBA has to offer.

Jason Kidd
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Player Comparison: Jason Kidd

There were two different versions of Jason Kidd in his NBA career. The young version was a wizard in transition and with the ball in his hands as one of the best passers the league has ever seen. The later version relied more on his size and basketball IQ while becoming an elite shooter from deep.

Ball combines the best of both versions, with his outstanding passing skills and court vision along with his shooting ability. Much like Kidd, Ball is able to start the break himself by either creating turnovers or rebounding the ball himself and pushing it.

Kidd was someone who elevated his teammates and his passing became contagious, something Ball showed in his lone season at UCLA. Ball’s defense isn’t quite on the level of a young Kidd, but the tools are there to make an impact and the rest of his game is almost a mirror image.

Fit With the Lakers

With the style of play and offensive system that head coach Luke Walton is implementing with the Lakers, there might not be a better fit than Lonzo Ball. Not only is he an amazing passer, shooter, and high IQ player, but he is effective with the ball in his hands as well as off-the-ball.

That versatility makes him a good fit next to D’Angelo Russell, at least on the offensive end. Both are capable of rebounding the ball and pushing in transition and the other could get out and spot up from deep. He would also be able to create more easy looks for the likes of Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Ivica Zubac.

There would still be some defensive concerns, but what he brings to the table offensively likely offsets that. He is a great fit for Walton’s system and overall style of the NBA and would make an immediate impact on these Lakers.