Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball was able to make an impact on NBA games that few players can in their first season in the league, despite a wayward shot and facing as much pressure as any first-year players since potentially LeBron James.
Despite all of that, Ball was still a positive force for L.A. by being one of the best defenders, rebounders and passers at his position. It helped lead to Ball being just one of three Lakers (along with Julius Randle and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) that the team had a better net rating with on the floor (-0.6) than off (-2).
That was also the largest positive disparity on the team, and Ball managing to be that crucial to the Lakers’ on-court fortunes while only shooting 36 percent from the field is a large part of why so many are so optimistic about how good he can be in a few years.
Among the Ball optimists is former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who revealed his confidence in Ball while speaking to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report about L.A.’s promising young core:
“Ball will end up being a very good player in this league.”
Coming from a man who has worked with the likes of LeBron James, Steve Nash and Kyrie Irving, among others, that’s no small praise.
And it’s also easy to see why Griffin thinks Ball can be so good, for all the reasons outlined above, and the fact that he was able to do those things at only 20 years old. Sometimes improvement for young players is talked about as if it’s inevitable, and that obviously isn’t the case.
Ball will have to put in work over the summer to improve on the little things, even if he and Los Angeles’ front office don’t plan on having him restructure his shot during the “biggest offseason” of his life.
If Ball can rise to the challenge and improve on little things like his finishing around the rim, it’s easy to see him rapidly ascending towards the ranks of the top players in the league. Such status isn’t a guarantee, but there is good reason for Griffin and others to believe.