Going into Saturday night, there was only one player younger than Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball to record a triple-double. That player was LeBron James.
Not only was Saturday history in the making for Ball, but it also ended a week that came filled with questions.
For Ball — coming into this season — many analysts were comparing Ball to the great Jason Kidd. Ironically, Kidd is now the head coach of the team that Ball faced on Saturday and man, did he play like it against the Milwaukee Bucks.
On Saturday, Ball showed why he got drafted as the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, as he scored 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists in the 98-90 loss. To add on, he was also active on the defensive end.
Ball added three steals and four blocks to his stat line as well.
His performance gave Lakers’ fans more hope in the rookie, who struggled mightily on Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics and Thursday night against the Washington Wizards.
The primary concern was Ball’s inconsistent shooting performances. Not known as a high-volume shooter, Ball shot a combined 2-12 against the Celtics and Wizards and was not a threat at all, unless he was looking to pass.
Ball’s release is not that bad, but the setup to his shot is Kevin Martin-esque, as he begins his shot by bringing the basketball towards the left side of his head.
After the loss to the Celtics, where Ball had just nine points on 4-15 shooting from the floor, questions swirled around his shot and if he ever thought of changing his mechanics.
Ball’s answer to that question was, “It’s in my head, to be honest. I know I can shoot the ball.” After a pair of lousy shooting performances, in Ball’s triple-double performance against the Bucks, he shot 3-5 from the three, and 7-12 from the floor, which shows how a pair of lousy shooting nights does not affect him in the least.
Former NBA star Stephen Jackson agreed, in an episode of ESPN’s The Jump.
Rookies are going to have rookie collapses when it is all said and done, but Saturday was far from that. Looking at the boxscore, one would not think that Ball was a rookie, with a triple-double that showed effectiveness on the defensive end.
In the end, Ball is in the NBA as a facilitator and a fantastic defender, not a scoring threat.
The one thing that he can get better at is, just that, scoring. For now, though, fans need to realize how special of a player Ball is and what he can bring to a franchise that has struggled for the better part of five seasons.