Lonzo Ball's father made it clear to the world that his son was going nowhere but Los Angeles. Danny Ainge was smart enough to know he didn't want to deal with the distraction of LaVar Ball's interference. In the NBA draft, Danny bypassed Lonzo for Jayson Tatum, and the early returns justify the choice. Here are the stats so far in the 2017-18 season:
The minutes and rebounds are close, but the other numbers differ significantly. Jayson is shooting extremely well from the floor, on threes and from the free throw line. Lonzo's percentages are terrible. His awkward shot with the low release and the possibility it could be blocked easily worried the teams considering drafting him. The 6.9 APG are no surprise. That is Ball's strong point.
It is a well known fact that NBA rookies that start their careers with strong showings often go on to stardom. Tatum has started strong, and he looks like a real keeper. Ball has not had a good start and struggles at times. His dad, LaVar, of course blames the Lakers for the issue (as per the Washington Post's Des Bieler):
LaVar Ball believes the Lakers should be giving his son Lonzo more minutes. I know — crazy, right?
When Los Angeles drafted Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick, it was only a matter of time before his beyond-outspoken father began critiquing the way his son was being used. Just 10 games into the season, that time has arrived.
“Let him play the whole fourth quarter and bet you’ll always win. He’ll get into a better flow,” LaVar Ball told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, in a story published Monday. “The in and out, sitting out six to 10 minutes? He’s not going to take no shots because he’s not in the flow. He don’t want to hurt the team by shooting.”
Ball was referring to his son’s struggles to make shots, which was a concern coming into the NBA because of his unorthodox form. Following Sunday’s 107-102 Lakers win over the Grizzlies, in which Lonzo Ball hit 3 of 13 shots, including just one of eight three-point attempts, his field goal percentage fell to an unsightly .299, .234 from beyond the arc.
There you have it. That's why Ainge wanted nothing to do with the father/son duo. The Celtics moving back in the draft from first to third, picking up a future star in Jayson and getting a future first-round draft pick in the deal (not to mention eliminating the high probability of LaVar Ball chirping over Danny's shoulder) looks like quite a haul.
It is quite easy to see what we have with Jayson Tatum. A long, versatile wing that can rebound, defend and shoot the lights out. Not so sure on Lonzo's potential with the Lakers or his future in the NBA. Here is SI's Andrew Sharp on Ball's situation:
In any case, the jumper: Nobody knows for sure how effective it will be as his career unfolds. Maybe his wonky release doesn't matter (like Kevin Martin), maybe he will develop as he gets older (like Jason Kidd, or Kyle Lowry), or maybe he'll be a streaky shooter his entire career (like John Wall or Russell Westbrook). Teams will just have to bet, and hope.
If he can be a real scoring threat, it puts him in a different category of superstar. It will open up his game in the halfcourt and make him twice as dangerous on the break. And if we acknowledge that he probably won't be Jason Kidd in any scenario—Kidd was a LeBron-level freak of nature athletically jumper could be the key to Lonzo Ball becoming a new-age version of Steve Nash. If the shooting is more of a struggle, maybe he'll be closer to the second coming of Ricky Rubio.
So will Lonzo Ball become Jason Kidd, Steve Nash or Ricky Rubio? Or none of the above. Jayson Tatum is Jayson Tatum, and we are thrilled with that. The thought that he will only get better is chilling.
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Top photo via Tony Dejak/AP Photo
Botton photo via Mike Stobe/Getty Images