Now that's more like it.
A night after Lonzo Ball's disappointing debut against the rabid wolverine Patrick Beverley and the Los Angeles Clippers, Ball got the best gift he could ask for in the situation: the Phoenix Suns' defense. Ball finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists, on 12-of-27 shooting. Ball wasn't a bust after his opening night struggle, nor is he a guaranteed Hall of Famer after this breakout. There are good things and bad things, but overall, you have to be impressed with that stat line, regardless of efficiency or pace.
Notes on Ball's big night:
The problem is that if you talk about how bad the Suns were, you're inherently detracting from Ball's performance. But there's a dynamic that exists there that can't be denied. The Suns could have played like garbage, and with a lesser player, it might not have mattered. Ball made the Suns pay for how bad they were.
But man, the Suns were bad.
There's "oh, the Suns went under the screen and dared him to shoot." Then there's "the Suns abandoned all hope and succumbed to the nothingness that overcomes you in an existential crisis."
Now, what's interesting here is that all four of Ball's 3-pointers were off the dribble, not spot-up. Having that ability is both key, and kind of counterintuitive. We think of shooting spot-up as easier, but we're seeing this trend a lot with young guards, where they're more comfortable with the ball in their hands, shooting pull-ups.
Likewise, against the pick and roll, Ball just had more space. The rim protection was worse, the help was nonexistent, so Ball was able to carve.
This might have been the best pass we've seen from him, a no-look over-the-head flip to Brook Lopez for a 3-pointer. Very impressive:
All in all, Ball wasn't efficient, but he scored in bunches and filled the stat sheet:
Low explosiveness, high board count
Ball was blocked six times, which is a lot. There's still this issue, where he has really low explosiveness off one foot.
What's crazy is how good he is leaping off two feet, which is why he now has 20 rebounds in his first two games. That, by the way, is the second-most in NBA history for a guard through the first two games of his career.
Ball put up numbers which will thrill his fans and silence his critics ... until the next game. Thursday's pitiful performance in his debut wasn't the end-all, be-all, and his brilliant stat line vs. the Suns wasn't an argument-ender, either. We're two games in, with a long way to go, but everything Lakers fans dreamed of from Ball and this young Lakers squad (including a resurgence from Brandon Ingram) came to fruition Friday night.