Lonzo Ball was one of three players acquired when the New Orleans Pelicans traded Anthony Davis and has been the least impressive of the three.
The New Orleans Pelicans traded Anthony Davis for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, and a slew of draft picks that were flipped for even more draft picks, this past summer. While the Pelicans are not off to a great start, this is a rare instance where both sides are happy.
The Pelicans got three solid young players and a lot of future capital in the Lakers’ draft picks for one guaranteed year of Davis when he did not even want to be on the team. That, mixed with the Pelicans getting extremely lucky and getting Zion Williamson, has kickstarted a new era in New Orleans that the fans are excited about.
The Lakers got Davis, who is the best teammate that LeBron James has ever had and the results are evident as the Lakers are 18-3 to start the season.
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This trade would have hurt if the players in return were awful but thus far, the Pelicans have a lot to be excited about, especially in Brandon Ingram.
Ingram has taken that next step that Laker fans had been expecting for years and is playing like a legitimate all-star. Ingram is averaging 25.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Ingram is only 22. He turned 22 in September. There has only been one player in NBA history to average 25 or more points, seven or more rebounds and four or more assists while shooting at least 40 percent from beyond the arc at 22 years old or younger — Kevin Durant.
Ingram has a long way to go before he lives up to the Durant comparisons, but what he has shown thus far is special. Even if we widen the age range to 25 he is still in elite company. Vince Carter did it twice, Durant twice, Danny Granger, Kyrie Irving, Paul Pierce, Karl-Anthony Towns and ironically, Shaquille O’Neal, who made one of two three-point attempts in 1995.
Josh Hart has not been as promising but has shown some really positive signs, which is similar to what he did in Los Angeles where he would put up these crazy games out of the blue, sprinkled throughout the year.
While he has battled injury, Hart is averaging 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 28.1 minutes per game. Hart is one of 14 players in the league to average 11 points and six rebounds in under 30 minutes per game. He is the only guard (unless you count Paul George, who is more of a small forward).
The odd man out has been Lonzo Ball and Ball’s poor performance against Dallas on TNT on Tuesday put him in the spotlight and continued some of the skepticism that he received in LA, all stemming from his father’s outlandish remarks when he was a rookie.
Ball scored six points with six boards and three assists 20 minutes. The striking part of his performance was his shooting, he was just two of 12 from the field and two of 10 from beyond the arc.
Ball has changed his quirky shot release to help aid his shooting but that has been his knock his entire career. In an era that is dominated by the three-point shot, Ball could not make three-point shots.
And it is not like he was Ben Simmons, who was excelling in other areas and staying away from threes (which has since changed), he was actively taking threes and missing them. There were 12 players in the league his first two seasons who shot as many threes as Ball with a worse percentage but the spotlight was shined brightly on his shooting.
Tuesday night’s contest was ugly and it is easy to give up on Ball quicker than usual because of the New Orleans Pelicans surplus of guards on the team and the fact that he is already battling the injury bug again. Ball is yet to play more than 52 games in a season and has missed eight of the Pelicans’ 21 games.
However, we have to remind ourselves to be patient with Ball because of what he brings to the table. He is a great facilitator that can make things happen and is a good off-ball scorer when others have the ball.
He is a great defender, a great rebounder for a point guard and gives the Pelicans size, something the team needs. His three-point shooting is getting better, it is up to 34.1 percent, and he still contributes to other areas of the game even if his scoring is not up to par.
Ball is one of only 14 players this season to average 10 points, five assists, four rebounds and a steal per game. Two of those players, Stephen Curry and Kyle Lowry, have not played 10 games. He is one of only six players to average 10 points, six assists, five rebounds and a steal per game across the last three seasons.
Case in point: don’t give up on Lonzo Ball. It took Brandon Ingram four years to turn into what he is now, at least give Ball the benefit of the doubt and let him get comfortable with the New Orleans Pelicans.