Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball had an up-and-down rookie season that was hampered by injury. Combined with the extra attention brought on by his father LaVar, and some are already concerned that Lonzo may not turn out to be the franchise-changing player he was touted as.
Hall of Famer and former Lakers point guard Gary Payton is not among those people, however. Considered one of the greatest point guards ever and undoubtedly one of the top defenders, Payton sees a lot to like about Lonzo after one season.
Appearing on “Afternoons with Marcellus & Travis” on ESPN L.A. Radio, Payton explained the reasons why he is so high on Ball as a player:
“I like Lonzo a lot. I think he’s got three great upsides about him. He has great court vision. I haven’t seen court vision like this since Magic Johnson. He has great court vision. I think he can rebound the basketball with the best of them. He’s a big guard who can rebound the basketball, and then, plus, what people don’t know about him, he can guard people one-on-one. He’s very long, he can stay in there. When he keeps his mind to it and stays in front of people, he blocks shots and steals the basketball a lot. The thing I think he needs to improve in, is scoring the basketball.”
It’s hard to argue with any of Payton’s points. Ball’s court vision can not be questioned and he averaged just under seven rebounds per game as a rookie. His defense was also an unexpected positive as he was much better on that end than anyone anticipated.
Payton also noted that one way for Lonzo to improve his shooting is to attack the basket more. It could be argued that Lonzo’s finishing at the rim was in many ways worse than his three-point shooting.
Being better at the rim will help his scoring overall while also giving him more room on the perimeter for his jumper. That type of aggression is something the Lakers front office asked Ball to improve on during the offseason.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka recently revealed that Ball has begun watching film with Magic Johnson on a weekly basis.
There is both plenty to like about Lonzo’s game and a lot he has to work on. He is surely working hard this summer on all those things with hopes of coming back next season as a much better player.
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