With the summer closing to an end, the MGM Resort’s NBA Summer League championship went down in Las Vegas with one of the biggest viewing audience ever for summer league. With 24 NBA teams playing 67 games in a span of eleven days. The finals had put up the 15th seed Lakers against the 6th seed Trail Blazers.
Both teams had their rookies and 2nd year NBA players trying out professional ball and getting a quick preview of the competition to come. The Lakers lineup includes Kyle Kuzma and a young 19 year old native of Los Angeles, Lonzo Ball. Ball is the number two pick in the 2017 draft who went to play in his hometown team, the Lakers.
He may not be the top pick but Ball is definitely picking up hype around the world; followed by fans and haters alike.
Usually a player even before being drafted in the NBA gets way to much attention and hype just to get fans rounded up before the draft. This is one of the reasons I stayed away from draft news subject to one particular player.
However, Lonzo’s debut in the Las Vegas Summer League did bring out a lot of talk of whether the rookie is actually living up to the hype. Tearing the internet between people who believe he is overrated or real, many people will agree on the notion that his legacy to play basketball was predestined.
Dubbed the “Magic Johnson with a Jump Shot”, Lonzo entered the NBA averaging 23.9 points in his high school career and 14.6 points in UCLA with a unanimous All-American first team position; commendable accolades for a point guard who is 6’6. Along with the repute, he also entered the league donning his very own signature shoe, the ZOs produced by his father’s athletic company Big Baller Brand.
The signature shoe, designed by Lonzo himself, created a lot of hype and was criticized for its over-the-fence price tag of $500. Watching a signature shoe retailing at $500 for a rookie who hasn’t even been drafted is a first for the league where even the best player (arguably), Lebron James, is capping only $250 for his kicks. Nevertheless, the college NCAA hype and the signature shoe brought a lot of talk to the draft table.
Fast forward one month and here is Lonzo Ball, donning the purple and gold Laker jersey for the summer league. With his signature shoe laced, Lonzo went all out against the Clippers in his first game but failed to close the deal and only put up 5 points from 2 out of 15 shooting.
Hopes of a new year with good playoff chances were dwindling with Lonzo’s first performance but the UCLA PG had his head up believing this is the worst he can play and the only way now is up. Next game with the Celtics, Lonzo proves he isn’t just a push over and discards the previous doubts all as debut game jitters. With 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, Ball initiates his first triple double averaging 8 points in two games.
Then comes the sensational breakout that created wildfire in the NBA, Lakers play the Philadelphia 76ers. With the top draft picks of 2017 playing head on against each other, the game was one of the highly anticipated ones with huge crowd attendance. Although the top draft pick Markelle Fultz sat the game out with an ankle injury, the 2nd draft pick Lonzo Ball made sure his rep was known.
That night Ball scored a whopping 36 points with 8 rebounds, 11 assists and 5 steals. One of the greatest performances in summer league history, Ball paved a solid win for the Lakers as he kept on the heat followed by win after win. Averaging a 16.3 ppg and 9.3 assists stat, Lonzo Ball won the Summer League MVP award while his teammate, Kyle Kuzma, won the Finals championship MVP to put the Lakers back on the map as a young but eager team.
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Lonzo Ball seems to have set up the NBA regular season with high aspirations for the Lakers. Professional opinion from analysts tells us that with the help of the Laker’s starting five and veterans, Lonzo can create easier and much more efficient play as a starting point guard.
The president of Lakers association, Magic Johnson, also believes that Lonzo has the skill set and agility to bring about a new change in the way offensive play is done in Lakers. Being the 3rd straight second pick for the Lakers, following D’Angello Russell and Brandon Ingram, it is about time Lonzo actually make waves for the Lakers.
This Los Angeles native will definitely be making more news headlines and the fans love him, who wouldn’t if your swerves and passes resemble the likes of Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd. The regular season will bring out the challenger in him or as the hometown Los Angeles like to call it, the “Mamba Mentality”.