Lonzo Ball shows athleticism in Lakers' second preseason game: Takeaways
Ball had a couple entertaining highlights, but there's still a long way to go
Lonzo hasn't flourished the way he did in summer league, but that was expected as he made the shift to playing against real, actual NBA players. In a 113-107 loss to the Nuggets on Monday, Lonzo put up eight points, four assists and four turnovers in 21 minutes. Here are some takeaways from his performance:
Turning up the aggression
If there has been one consistent knock on Lonzo from the summer league through the preseason, it's that at times he's too unselfish -- particularly when he gets into the lane. When Ball penetrates, he often jumps in the air looking to pass, and more often than not he ends up with no way out.
There was more of that on Monday, but plays like this one -- where he gets the ball and moves straight downhill toward the basket -- are promising for the Lakers.
Once Ball makes the defense believe he's actually a threat around the rim, it will open up all sorts of passing lanes and opportunities for his teammates. Again, let's all take a deep breath and realize that Ball is 19 years old and has yet to play a regular-season NBA game. And if a point guard is going to err on one side or the other, you'll take too unselfish over too selfish any day of the week.
Zo's got some bounce
It's not apparent from watching him play, but during the draft process, scouts continually talked about Lonzo's sneaky athleticism. Look, he's not Dennis Smith Jr., but plays like this one remind you that the 6-foot-6 Ball is probably more athletic than you think he is.
Ball stays pretty low to the ground most of the time, but it's nice to see he has got a little extra athleticism in the tank for when he needs it.
That shot, though ...
Ball made one step-back 3-pointer, but otherwise it was another poor shooting night from deep (1 for 3). For a player who relies so heavily on passing angles and lacks blow-by quickness, Ball really needs to be able to knock down 3s to keep the defense honest. Teams continue to test him by going under screens, and so far he has done nothing to prove he's going to be even an average 3-point shooter in the NBA.
Lonzo made 41 percent of his 3-pointers in college (many of them from beyond NBA range), so the peculiar shooting form wasn't necessarily viewed as a red flag coming into the league. But Ball shot terribly from deep during the summer league and so far is 2 for 8 on 3s in the preseason.
It's only the preseason, but the Lakers have to be asking themselves: When does Lonzo's shooting (and his shooting form) become a real issue?
Is Lonzo even the Lakers' best rookie?
So far in two preseason games, the best rookie (and the best player) on the floor for the Lakers hasn't been Lonzo -- it has been Kyle Kuzma. The 6-9 forward out of Utah scored 23 points on Monday, after scoring 19 in his preseason debut on Saturday. Kuzma is already a crowd favorite, and showed off his long-range ability on Monday, shooting 4 for 9 from beyond the arc.
Kuzma's 18 for 29 from the field in his first two preseason games after a strong summer league, so it looks like the Lakers might have found a real gem with the 27th pick in the draft.
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