Let’s be honest here, The NBA Draft is the land of the unknown. It doesn’t matter what a player did while in college or High School, the only thing that matters is what happens when he slips that pro uniform on. Lonzo Ball is expected by some to be the No.1 overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft and while that may hold some weight it still remains to be seen if he will live up to that billing.
Ball is a solid player. Nothing special, just solid across the board. However, there were players like Harold Minor, Ed O’Bannon, Joe Smith and others who starred in college who reached the NBA and forgot how to play the game.
Ball is supposed to be the missing link to a few team’s title chances. He’s a 6-6 PG that can handle the rock, play defense, dish, and rebound. But, haven’t we seen this before? Wasn’t this the same with Anfernee Hardaway and Michael Carter-Williams? Hardaway actually took his college talents and turned them into a pretty decent pro career until injuries stepped in. For his career, ‘Penny’ averaged 15/5/5 and his numbers decreased as injuries took over late in his career.
Another player with Ball’s size and skill-set is Carter-Williams.
Williams played at Syracuse where he displayed the same level of skills that Hardaway and now Ball possessed. Williams averaged 12/7/5 his sophomore year and took his talents to the NBA. Both he and Hardaway exploded on the scene in their rookie year and while ‘Penny’ went on to carve out a name for himself, Carter-Williams went from ROY to roster afterthought.
Will Ball suffer the fate of Hardaway or Carter-Williams?
Right now it’s hard to tell. College is nothing like the NBA and Ball will have his work cut out for him as he will enter a league of players that will be gunning for him due to his father, LaVar Ball. His father has said that Lonzo will be better than Stephen Curry, has attacked LeBron James in the media and has said that his son will only play for the Los Angeles Lakers (later cleared up his statement).
Ball has handles like both guards and it’s his body frame that forced Hardaway and Carter-Williams comparisons. However, as good as both players were/are at getting to the rim, it was their perimeter game that often failed them. Hardaway was awful from three-point territory (32%) and Carter-Williams was worse (25%) but they each had that trait of being able to set up an offense and be a terror on the defensive end of the floor.
Bell must adjust to the speed and strength of the NBA game or he will become another good college player that failed in the NBA. It will also come down to the team that drafts him as well. Hardaway had the luxury of playing with Shaquille O’Neal while Carter-Williams was lost on a 76ers squad in the beginning stages of a rebuild.
While at UCLA, Bell averaged 15/6/8. Good numbers for a PG but what was so surprising watching him play was his perimeter game. His shot is awkward as hell but it works. For his freshman year, Bell shot 55% and 41% from beyond the three-point line. However, the one area he must improve on if he’s to have a solid career is his free-throw shooting. He hit a dismal 67% from the line this year and that must improve with the physical nature of the players he will face on a constant basis.
There will be no more of playing smaller schools with inferior talent across from him. There will be Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and John Wall looking to make a statement against the young stud. If he continues to shoot poorly from the foul line will they have to mask his deficiencies like the Celtics had to do with Rajon Rondo?
I’m not sure if Ball is ready for the pro game, much like Carter-Williams and sometimes I can see it in D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s something about playing that PG position that takes time. One decent season means nothing and he may have jumped the gun on his decision to turn pro.
What does the future hold for Ball?
No one knows and that’s what’s so intriguing. He could very well be a player who resembles Hardaway or could crumble under the pressure and become the next Carter-Williams or Shaun Livingston.