Lakers voices: a GM NBA shocked by how good the Lonzo Ball is in defense
Since Lonzo Ball fell with an ankle sprain, the Los Angeles Lakers essentially forgot how to play the defense. Now, a ton (the commercial deadline, the head coach is under undercut by the management and the roster management, injuries, etc.). He is going into that result, but arguably exchanging the best defensive presence of the team for Rajon Rondo went exactly like everyone who was out of Magic Johnson's office would have expected.
In an article by Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, an NBA executive was willing to admit that he didn't see this kind of impact before Ball entered the league:
"He is an impact player on that side of the ball," said a Western Conference executive. "I'm surprised it's so good on the defensive. Coming out of UCLA, that was a question."
We do this strange thing in defining skillsets in which highly qualified offensive players cannot be good defenders until they prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, while untrained athletes must prove that they are not really good defenders before they concede that point .
The ball to date has its detractors when it comes to its defensive skills, although it has shown fairly consistently that, whenever it is healthy, it is capable like any other point guard in the NBA in that aspect of the game.
Ball was seen as a dynamic offensive player with great passing instincts and crazy range as a result of his strange jumper when he was entering the league. Then, when that jumper didn't translate consistently into the NBA, people seemed to focus on that, and not on the impact that Ball was doing on defense because few saw him coming.
So, in practice, with where Ball is now, the Lakers are an inconsistent offensive player who is more capable as a defender, but if that offense always comes long enough, it will be more than just his draft position – if it gets and stays healthy, of course.
This last point is all that really matters now. If Ball is able to face an entire offseason and get to the next year in full health, then the Lakers have something to build on. But if he still needs the offseason intervention, all the potential he has shown could be for nothing, as it would probably be in the Lakers interest to get a player who can remain available for the entire mandate by LeBron James here. We all hope for the first scenario.
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