There are two reactions one is likely to have after Lonzo Ball’s sensational play in his third NBA Summer League game: “WOW” or “It’s just the Summer League”. In this case, both reactions are justified.
After struggling in his debut game and posting a triple-double in his second, Lonzo Ball broke out Wednesday night in the Lakers’ Summer League game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Ball finished the game with a whopping 36 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals while shooting 12-22 from the field and 3-10 from three. More importantly, he converted a go-ahead and-1 with under 25 seconds left and led the Lakers to a much-needed win, 103-102.
While it’s wise to be weary of Summer League success translating to regular season success, this explosion by Ball cannot be ignored. One of my biggest grievances with Ball’s game coming out of college was his scoring upside and mentality. Throughout his only season at UCLA, Ball never exhibited a willingness to take a game over, put his team on his back, and record a high point total. In fact, Ball’s most prolific scoring outing in college was a 24 point performance on only 15 shots against the Oregon Ducks in January. However, the Lonzo Ball that played Wednesday night was a different man.
Unlike any of his games at UCLA, Lonzo Ball caught fire, scoring 28 points in the second half and leading the Lakers to a comeback victory. He was aggressive, confident, and showcased killer instinct. He even looked reminiscent of the man who selected him in this year’s draft: Magic Johnson.
But again, it is just the Summer League. Lonzo wouldn’t be the first rookie to impress in Summer League only to fall flat in the regular season (see: Kris Dunn). However, he also wouldn’t be the first rookie to thrive in Summer League and get even better in the regular season and beyond.
Time will tell concerning Lonzo Ball’s long-term NBA success. Summer League performances historically yield uncertain results, and this situation is no different. One thing is certain, though: hope springs eternal in Lakerland these days, and Lonzo Ball’s performance added more fuel to the fire.
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