Lonzo Ball Is the Lakers’ Missing Piece!
While LeBron may be the best player on the team and planet, Lonzo Ball is the key to the Lakers realizing their potential
LeBron James may be the Lakers’ best and most valuable player but Lonzo Ball is the missing piece they need to bring their vision of a tough physical defense powering a modern juggernaut version of Showtime to reality.
We’re barely three games into the preseason and the Lakers have flashed glimpses of greatness but looked far from invincible due to high turnovers, abysmal rebounding, poor three-point shooting, and lackluster defense. While the Lakers were able to pull out their first win on Thursday against the undermanned Sacramento Kings behind Brandon Ingram’s break-out game, they still face a formidable challenge with just three preseason games left.
While I don’t want to downplay the good news — LeBron playing like he’s still in his prime and Ingram looking like a potential all-star — the reality is the Lakers sorely miss Lonzo Ball, who is their catalyst at both ends of the court. After three games, the Lakers’ 21 turnovers per game rank 25th, their 40.7 rebounds per game rank 30th, their 32.4% three-point shooting ranks 19th, and their 115.3 points scored per game allowed rank 22nd in the league.
Just like last season, all of these are critical components of the Lakers’ game that have been adversely affected by Lonzo’s absence. LeBron James may be the new face of the franchise and Brandon Ingram the team’s next superstar, but the reality is Lonzo Ball is the missing piece to the championship puzzle the Lakers are trying to build. He’s the catalyst the Lakers need to transform their defense and offense into elite units they need to contend for a title.
Lonzo’s savvy anticipation, constant ball hawking, and dominant rebounding elevated the Lakers’ defense from dead last to 12th in the league last season. Despite missing 30 games, Lonzo finished his rookie season with the second best DEFRPM rating among all guards in the league. His 6.9 rebounds per game was the 4th best among guards and his 1.7 steals per game 11th best among guards last season. He was and is the Lakers’ best defensive player.
Offensively, LeBron and Rondo have done an admirable job grabbing the rebound and getting the Lakers’ fast break offense rolling, promising signs considering they both have a tendency to want to hold onto the ball rather than passing it to a player ahead to advance the break. Lonzo’s incredibly low 17.2% usage rate, which ranked 172nd among guards, shows how important he is to ball movement and why he’s perfect to play alongside LeBron James.
There’s been a lot of talk this preseason about how the Lakers want to build a tough physical defense that will power their high-powered transition game. The reality is Lonzo Ball is the vital key both defensively and offensively to Magic Johnson’s and Luke Walton’s grand plan working and his absence this preseason has been a big reason for the Lakers’ struggles with high turnovers, abysmal rebounding, lackluster defense, and even poor three-point shooting.
There still hasn’t been any word as to whether Lonzo will play tonight against the Clippers in Anaheim but I’m hoping the Lakers will finally give ‘Zo the go. There are only three games and less then two weeks left in the preseason and the Lakers need to get Lonzo playing time with LeBron and his teammates. While LeBron may be the best player on the team and planet, Lonzo Ball is the missing puzzle piece and the key to the Lakers realizing their potential.