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Lakers: All About Lonzo Now

July 9th, 2017 · No Comments · Basketball, Lakers, NBA

Lonzo Ball’s first game with the Lakers, in an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas last night, was a disaster. The stuff of nightmares. The No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, the “next Magic Johnson”, stunk it up.

Two-for-15 shooting from the field. One-for-11 from three.

Welcome to the league, Lonzo. Or the summer league, anyway. From what we hear, the actual NBA is tougher.

Ball’s team of young/semi-marginal Lakers lost 96-93 to the Clippers scrubs, in overtime.

Ball contributed five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block but also had three turnovers and, with the brick-laying shooting performance added in it made for the sort of performance that left Lakers fans everywhere think: “Oh, my goodness, he’s not great, he’s not even good!”

Well, the panic can be dialed back a little.

In Game 2 of the summer league, Ball managed a triple double — 11 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists — as the Lakers lost another close one.

And it struck me that this season is going to be all about Lonzo.

Brandon Ingram, last year’s top Lakers pick, had a fine game, going in for a dunk off a long lob from Lonzo for the game’s first points.

Ingram, the second-year player out of Duke, scored 26, and will skip the rest of the summer. Not that we were paying particular attention to last year’s No. 2 pick.

Lonzo. That’s where it is at.

His 11-11-11 line quelled the panic in Lakerdom, even though his father, LaVar, who was at the game, said Lonzo had not done his job. A point guard’s job, in LaVar’s world, being to win games; his stats don’t matter.

Lonzo’s first-year situation is not at all similar to Magic’s, back in 1979-80. The Lakers then were a solid team boasting one of the greatest players in NBA history, in Kareen Abdul-Jabbar.

Magic was impressive as a rookie but it was Kareem’s team, right up till Game 6 of the NBA Finals vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, when Kareem was out with an ankle injury, back in Los Angeles, and Magic scored 42 with 15 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a championship clinching victory at the Spectrum. (I was in Philly for that one; an amazing performance.)

The Lakers were magic’s team for the next decade-plus.

But the point here is that he had a great teammate from the start, and nearly till the end. The 2017-18 Lakers have no one veteran to welcome Lonzo to The League.

Given that talent void, the season almost certainly will be about fans giving Lonzo a long and close look. He may get to throw alley-oops to a veteran star a year from now, but for the moment … Lonzo is it.

Which is why that Friday game was such a scary thing, and why the snap back to (an admittedly low-wattage) triple double felt so good.



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