by Kareem Copeland, Associated Press
Lonzo Ball seems to be just what the Lakers needed.
Yes, it’s only summer league, but Los Angeles is mired in a playoff drought and in much need of some excitement. Enter the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Ball has created a buzz around the Los Angeles franchise — on and off the court.
He has averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds in six summer league games in Las Vegas. The California native with Showtime-like flair has two triple-doubles and four double-digit assist games while leading the team to Monday night’s championship game. He will miss the final contest with a mild calf strain.
His absence Monday is almost throwaway line in the final chapter of Ball’s summer league story. The 19-year-old Ball made more headlines wearing different brands of sneakers each game.
Ball and his boisterous father, LaVar, just might be marketing geniuses with how they’ve kept his sneaker choice as headline news despite turning down lucrative offers from the major brands.
The sneaker rotation is clearly a deliberate plan and LaVar continues to tell people he’s asking for a huge deal with one of the major companies.
Many have criticized the hype machine and multiple summer league players have said they wouldn’t wear the brand. But those same players were supportive, even envious, of the concept of having their own independent fashion and sneaker line.
The Ball method is certainly unconventional. Rarely does someone promote their own brand by featuring products from other companies. But Lonzo said that’s part of the Big Baller Brand — having the independence to do what one wants.
The circus atmosphere off the court somewhat overshadows what Ball has done on the court. Ball has been impressive with is play-making skills. It all makes the 6-foot-6 Ball seem like an ideal for La La Land.
He grew up in the suburb of Chino Hills and the City of Angels is used to big point guards with next level passing ability. Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma has averaged 20.5 points per game in large part due to Ball’s pinpoint passes.
Magic Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations, immediately laid out his expectations after drafting Ball — for the rookie’s number to hang from the Staples Center rafters. And the former UCLA star is making the architect of Showtime and owner of five championship rings look like a soothsayer.
“Passing translates, I don’t care what level you’re on,” Johnson told Lakers.com. “Lakers fans are thirsty. … This team will be exciting and it starts with that point guard position. “
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