Sometimes, the best things in life don’t always look very appealing.
That one car on the lot that looks inconspicuous and bland may just be the most reliable. And those ugly looking running shoes, while obviously not very charming, are usually the ones that last for years. Ugly, but effective. Vile, yet valuable.
In much the same way, that’s exactly the kind of description Lonzo Ball encompasses right now. That weird, cringe-worthy looking jump shot of his isn’t exactly a sight for sore eyes. That 35.6% shooting percentage, the 21 total games he’s missed already this season, those don’t look good on any resume. But like that bland, boring looking car and those ugly, uncharming looking pair of running shoes, Lonzo’s value cannot be measured by the beauty of his game.
When the Lakers first drafted Lonzo, it was like a match made in heaven. The #2 overall pick out of UCLA, the apparent next high-profile point guard of the future, going to the Lakers in an attempt to resurrect the dying franchise? That’s just storybook. Add in LaVar’s celebrity-like attitude, and the family’s demand for attention, and it almost seems like Zo was supposed to be a Laker all along.
And, at least at first, things went picture-perfect. Lonzo won the summer league MVP, the Lake-show appeared to be cracking open their potential, and the world was abuzz with purple and gold. No doubt just as Magic Johnson had pictured.
But in a strange (and predictable) little twist, things got out of hand when LaVar Ball let his mouth run wild. Suddenly, people were beginning to doubt whether the Ball family was actually a benefit to the Lakers, or if their hunger and greed toward the media were just too much to deal with. Why, people wondered, was Zo not doing anything to stop his Father’s crazy antics? Why, people questioned, were the Lakers submerged in so much drama if Lonzo Ball was supposed to be the guy to unite the locker room? It was a pretty ugly situation.
And, to make matters even more extreme, Lonzo wasn’t playing like most thought he would. Surely, most assumed, the #2 overall pick out of UCLA would average at least 15 points and 8 assists. Surely he would win Rookie of the Year. People were drooling at the thought of Lonzo leading the Lakers. But in reality, that was never his game. At least, not yet. His jump shot is broke, he’s missed over 20 games, and there’s nothing particularly flashy about his game.
Inconspicuous, bland… unattractive. Already, he’s being hailed as a bust.
But there’s so much further to this story than meets the eye.
It is true, Lonzo and Big Baller Brand thrive in Los Angeles. In any other city, playing for any other team, who knows how much different things would be for them. But the Lakers also need Lonzo. Because, for the Los Angeles Lakers, they don’t just need a star basketball player on the court, they need a star off of it as well.
They need the attention his crazy, media-driven, loud-mouth Dad brings to the franchise. They need the buzz his family creates everytime they make a decision. To be quite frank, Lonzo Ball, and the Ball family, are exactly who the Lakers were looking for. Sure, the attention may not always be positive, it may not always be pretty, but it makes the team relevant even when they shouldn’t be. It’s the Laker way. That’s why they’re one of the most talked about teams of today, despite being 10 games below .500.
And even in the basketball sense, Lonzo’s presence has a significant impact. When he sits, the ball movement suffers, the defense falls, and the team loses… in quite embarrassing fashions. But when you look at his stats (10.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 7.1 APG), they prove that he does a little bit of everything on the court. So, yeah, he’s not a very fabulous scorer, but he does so much more.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 24, 2018
For the UCLA legend, it’s not about points. That comes later. But when talking about the perfect Laker… Zo is about as perfect as they come. Like so many other things in this world, Lonzo Ball is valuable without necessarily being attractive. He’s good, but it’s not very easy to tell. He’s proving that being a point guard in today’s NBA is not all about how many points you can score.
And he is perfectly okay with that.