I’m sure by now we all can agree Lonzo Ball hasn’t been worthy of ROY consideration. Not only that, but he hasn’t even been the best rookie on his own team. Some have even went as far as to call him a bust. I’m here to tell you why you should ignore all that commotion and anticipate the emergence of a potential rookie of the year candidate.
Sure, Lonzo hasn’t put up big numbers or shot the ball as effectively as the other young and flourishing rookies, but he has had some great moments worthy of praise and dare I even say an underrated season?
Let’s take a look at his numbers among the rest of the 2017-18 draft class. He’s 4th in rebounds(6.9), 3rd in blocks(1.0), 2nd in assists(7.0), 4th in steals(1.3), 4th in double-doubles(6) and 2nd in triple doubles(2).
His 7 assists also have him sitting 8th in that category across the rest of the NBA. As for rebounding, only Ben Simmons and Russell Westbrook average more rebounds than him at the point guard position.
Ball also made history this season by becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double, breaking LeBron James record that has stood for 12 years. Not only did Lonzo finish the game with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists, he also came away with 3 steals and a career high 4 blocks which he managed to do twice this season.
It gets even better. Lonzo also joined Jerry West and Magic Johnson as the 3rd player in Lakers history to record multiple triple doubles in his rookie season. That’s some elite company to be in.
On the season, Lonzo is averaging 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. That’s only been done 4 times in NBA history by a rookie. Magic did it 1980, Oscar Robertson in 1961 and now Ben Simmons and Lonzo share the historic achievement.
Despite all that, the biggest knock on Lonzo’s game has been his poor shooting from the floor and continuous struggles to score the ball. Through his first 20 games, Lonzo put up horrid first year numbers that you wouldn’t expect from a top 3 pick. While he did put up admirable assist(7.1) and rebound(7.3) numbers, the same could not be said for his inability to shoot and score the ball.
He just barely averaged 8.7 points during that stretch and put up cringe-worthy shooting numbers of 30-24-42. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. 30% from the field. 24% from three and 42% from the charity stripe. Those are numbers that would make even Marcus Smart shudder with disgust.
He did however contribute on the defensive end as he would show flashes of his potential to be a capable defender. He racked up 1.4 steals and 1 block per game(which lead all point guards in that department).
Now, Lonzo is starting to turn doubters into believers and erasing all the negativity that has been thrown at him this season.
After his impressive game against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors at the end of November where he posted a cool 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while shooting 42% from three, Lonzo seemed to have found himself. He’s slowly been scoring the ball better while also vastly improving his shooting numbers from all parts of the floor.
In the month of December, Lonzo is averaging 12.2 points, 6.8 assists, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals all while shooting 42% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. He continues to play defense at a high level and is shooting the ball much more efficiently. This stretch has been a great confidence booster for him and his teammates.
Now he may still have a long way to go to catch Ben Simmons and fellow teammate Kyle Kuzma, but he’s showing great development. I wouldn’t count Lonzo Ball out just yet to make a run at the rookie of the year trophy.
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- All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and ESPN.