Lonzo Ball and Larry Nance, Jr., probably thought they’d be an alley-oop combination for the foreseeable future while they were once teammates. It was a perfectly logical thing for them to think about at the time, but you just never know in the NBA, especially when Rob Pelinka tells you to invest in local real estate.
(Note: according to Nance, Pelinka never actually told him he wouldn’t be traded — but it’s funny so I’m still laughing about it.)
Nance was in the middle of a Twitter Q&A Monday evening and was asked about his former point guard’s ceiling, and he’s apparently pretty high on Ball:
Seeing as there’s very little else going on, let’s look a little closer at Ball’s chances here.
First and foremost, you have to take into account just how insane the talent at point guard is in this era of the NBA. In the Western Conference, you have Steph Curry (always among the favorites for the popular vote), Russell Westbrook and his triple doubles, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Gary Harris/Jamal Murray and potentially other point guards who might make their way into the mix via personnel movement.
With only a few spots on the roster for guards — and that’s without even mentioning shooting guards, which is also a deep position in the West — the competition is legitimately insane, and it likely isn’t getting any easier anytime soon.
The other thing to take into account is how slow voters are on the uptake for players who have narratives to overcome. Ball will finally play his 100th NBA game in three seasons on opening night (fingers crossed), and has had an up-and-down start to his career. He definitely hasn’t lived up to the hype LaVar Ball or Magic Johnson forced on him and, as such, has an uphill battle ahead of him in public perception, and by extension the fan vote.
Another thing that has to be mentioned is Ball’s style of play. He makes his name on the defensive end, and very rarely has that more anonymous end of the floor jumped out at those who would make the decision on him as an All-Star. Defensive real plus-minus isn’t the kind of thing that gets guys into the conversation and thus, Ball might struggle to keep up with those who produce in more “noticeable” ways.
All this is to say it doesn’t really matter. Nance’s vote of confidence is great to see, but the top priority by a long-shot is Ball getting and staying healthy. Should he do that, he’ll help the Lakers win games. If they win enough of them and he plays the role we all think he’s capable of in that success, the accolades will come. Focusing on anything other than that would be a waste of a crucial offseason for Ball and his current teammates.
On today’s Locked on Lakers, Christian Rivas and I actually discussed Lonzo’s future after looking back on the season he had last year, and Christian’s long-form feature on Ball’s basketball impact on his hometown. Check that out below.