The Los Angeles Lakers agreed in principle to a trade with Philadelphia last Wednesday night, sending the Chicago Bulls’ 2019 second round pick and cash to the 76ers in exchange for the 39th pick, to be completed on July 6th after the NBA moratorium period.
Their target was Isaac Bonga, a rangy and unrefined prospect for the Frankfurt Skyliners of the Basketball Bundesliga. He’s a highly unusual player, as a 6’9” point guard with a 7’0” wingspan.
Bonga’s ball-handling and court vision are the strongest parts of his game, which he combines with his physical gifts to take advantage of opportunities that simply aren’t there for other players. His coordination and long strides are tailor-made for transition, where he does much of his damage.
With news that he sounds likely to play for the Lakers in summer league, let’s take a closer look at his game.
Bonga is extremely raw - he doesn’t turn 19 years old until November - and has plenty of holes in his game. His jump shot has several technical flaws in it, and addressing them will take time and concerted effort with player development coaches over the next couple of seasons. Many of his other issues, such as turnovers and over-penetration, stem from the difficulties with his shot. He’s also not much of a leaper, despite his lithe frame and long strides.
Bonga seems like an ideal draft-and-stash candidate, where he could develop overseas while the Lakers maintain his rights, but the Lakers may want to groom him under their supervision, with their coaches utilizing their facilities. It may take a year or two, but the player who emerges as a result of that could be quite distinct. We may get our first up-close look in Las Vegas and Sacramento.