Why the Los Angeles Lakers should not draft Lonzo Ball

The Los Angeles Lakers select second overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. This article examines why the Lakers should not select Lonzo Ball with that pick.

The Los Angeles Lakers were once again fortunate to keep their draft pick during the lottery.  The correct combination shot from the lottery machine and chose the Lakers to select second overall. 

It is no secret that is this is an important draft for Los Angeles.  The current roster features three recent lottery picks in Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram and the Lakers are still struggling.  They need to improve this season.  Next year’s first-round draft pick is already traded away with no protections to Philadelphia.  The 2017 draft is their chance to secure a franchise cornerstone player at pick two overall and another rotation piece with the Houston Rockets selection at 28 overall. 

The Lakers cannot mess this draft up so who do they select with that second pick?  There are plenty of options, but the name you hear most frequently is Lonzo Ball.  The 6’6 point guard from UCLA, a hometown kid, with endless potential if you listen to the pundits.  I believe selecting Lonzo Ball is a mistake the Lakers cannot afford to make and today, I will detail four reasons why

1. Awkward Jump Shot

Lonzo Ball’s jump shot is unconventional and potentially problematic.  Personally, I have never seen a jump shot quite like Ball’s, and that is a bit worrisome.  If his shot was a gem why has nobody ever shot like this before?  It is hard to imagine it being a diamond.  I found a great video breaking down his shot and why it could cause him to struggle.  Check it out below.

The video mentioned his poor free throw shooting, and I do not think it will stop there.  This shot is similar to a Major League Baseball player with a long swing.  If the mechanics that made you successful get thrown off slightly (and there is more to get thrown off with more motion) it is a struggle to get back on track.  Cold streaks seem to last longer, and I believe Ball will have this problem. 

I think he will have difficulty getting his shot off in the NBA as well.  With a primary right-hand dribble and the need to bring the ball all the way to the left of his face creates a long distance to cover and with the increased speed of the NBA game those fractions of a second could be the difference between a make and a rushed shot miss or blocked shot.  Defenders are going to play him hard on his left as well.  Ball struggles to drive right and if they are already on the left and he brings that ball around it will be difficult to get his shot off.  I expect at least some growing pains with his jump shot if not something more pronounced in the league.

2. Creating Offense

The Los Angeles Lakers are in desperate need of a creator on offense.  D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson can score the ball.  Julius Randle can be successful on offense if placed in the situations he needs and Brandon Ingram is developing his offensive game.  They need a player that can distribute the ball and give their other talents the best opportunities to be successful.  Lonzo Ball is not that player.

I could break it down for you, but the great people at DraftExpress put together this video that details his half court struggles well, so please check it out.

The Lakers rely too much on transition offense as it is and is a big reason behind their struggles.  They cannot create efficient shots in half-court sets, so let us throw in a point guard who cannot do that, and it is going to fix or even help the problem?  I think not.

Could Lonzo Ball improve in this area? Of course, he could as he is still 19 years old, but I could, also, become President of the United States.  Both seem far from a sure thing at this moment.

3. Defensive Liability

Would you like to take a guess at who had the NBA’s worst defensive rating last season?  If you guessed, the Los Angeles Lakers you are correct.  The Lakers also allowed the 28th most points and the highest opponents field goal percentage during the 2016-2017 regular season.  Pick a stat any stat, and it will tell you that the Los Angeles Lakers were a bad defensive club.

The narrative on Lonzo Ball is that he will be a good NBA defender because he is tall and long for a point guard and the defensive statistics looked flashy at UCLA last season.  I am not a believer in that. 

Ball strikes me as a player that gambles for steals and blocks instead of defending his man and trying to create missed shots.  That works to create you some eye-popping traditional defensive numbers, but that does not work out well for your team in the long run. 

Lonzo Ball is not a great on-ball defender.  In the three games last season when he faced off against the 2017 NBA Draft’s top point guards (twice against Kentucky and once against Washington), Ball allowed 20, 25, and 39 points to De’Aaron Fox and Markelle Fultz respectively.  If the Lakers select him, Ball would be entering a division with Steph Curry and Chris Paul and a conference with a plethora of point guards who can score the ball.

Adding Lonzo Ball’s defense to an already bad Lakers defense is like adding a one-inch twig to a dying fire, it does nothing to solve a huge problem.

4. The Surrounding Circus

I mean it is LA and Hollywood, but Ball and his family have never met a headline they did not love.  From his new sneakers to his refusal to workout for the Boston Celtics, this kid knows how to make the news.  And if he cannot cut it dad sure can.

LaVar Ball is somewhere in the country talking right now.  Maybe he is talking to a reporter, perhaps to one of his three sons, but something is coming out of his mouth, and it is probably a quotable goldmine.  From his Big Baller Brand to his ridiculous quotes to his claim he would beat Michael Jordan in a game of 1 on 1, LaVar Ball is always on the periphery of his young son's career. 

Are these the things the Lakers need in their struggling franchise?  A kid who thinks he is better than sliced bread and too good to work out for a historic franchise with the number one overall pick and his father who is backing him up all the way and saying something newsworthy just for the sake of it?  The Los Angeles Lakers should be focusing on basketball and returning to glory, not these back page stories.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, my four reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers should not draft Lonzo Ball with the number two overall pick.  I hear the experts who think he is the most talented player in the draft and a superstar and I disagree.  Ultimately, I view him as a talented player with the potential to be great, but a player who is going to struggle in the NBA (at least initially) and a poor fit for the Lakers.  Do not be surprised to hear another name called on June 22 when the Lakers are selecting second overall.

If Los Angeles does select Lonzo Ball, they should do it with the stipulation that LaVar has to play Michael Jordan in a game of one on one, though.  That should keep Mister Ball quite for two minutes as MJ rips him a new one all over the court.  It won't happen, but that is something I would pay good money to see.

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