Andrew D. Bernstein // Getty Images
Lonzo Ball is a basketball freak.
I don’t need to bring up a bunch of stats and figures that will no doubt have you bored after the first sentence. Instead, I’ll ask you this: when was the last time the NBA saw a Point Guard that was 6’4+, could shoot the 3 ball, throw down monster dunks, find open players with ease, had impressive quickness and, above all, had an incredible basketball IQ?
Magic Johnson had and LeBron James has the majority of these qualities, though there is one significant difference… Lonzo Ball can shoot. And I’m not saying LeBron or Magic couldn’t shoot at all, but Lonzo can really shoot.
Don’t get this twisted, I’m not saying something ridiculous like, ‘Lonzo is going to win MVP this year’. I’m not even saying he’s certainly going to win ROTY (though I think he has a great chance to). For me, this is a long-term process. Therefore, what I am saying is that Lonzo has every capability to seriously change the way we play basketball.
The only obstacle in Lonzo’s way is the pressure of leading this Los Angeles Lakers team to such heights that he may be unprepared for. Can he sustain the pressure of LA fans willing the Lakers to make the playoffs in an absolutely stacked Western conference?
There’s also the problem of the Ball family in general. Lavar is a genius at getting people’s attention and, in turn, exposure for the family and its brand. However, this also puts masses of pressure onto Lonzo’s shoulders to execute on what his father says he can do. Losing D’Angelo Russell came to some surprise, but on Lonzo’s watch, it will be worth it.
Versatility, Versatility, Versatility…
If you could pick 3 young players that are already starting to dominate the NBA, who would you pick? My guess is that Kristaps Porzingis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl Anthony-Towns come to mind? Now, what do these 3 players all have in common? Versatility. KAT and Porzingis can both shoot the 3 ball and dominate in the paint, while Giannis has absolutely blinding speed for a guy so damn tall and can do nearly everything on the court. He even has the basketball IQ to run the Point Guard as a near 7 footer.
So how does this all link to why Lonzo leading a new era for the NBA? This is all proof that the NBA has shifted to a style of basketball whereby players are expected to do it all. Why?
In the NBA, if you have an inability to shoot, you instantly become a point of weakness in your team. On the flip side, if you have a good size while also maintaining astonishing athleticism, you become a vital asset to any team.
If you have all of these qualities, who isn’t going to want you? Lonzo is the most do-it-all player the NBA has currently. As a result, he is leading a new generation of athletic monsters that can hurt you in the paint just as much as they can demoralise you from beyond the arch.
Welcome to the future of basketball.