Lonzo’s NBA record
FOR all his much-publicized shooting woes, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball has already set a new National Basketball Association (NBA) record this early into the 2017-18 wars.
Last November 11, Ba l l became the youngest player in NBA annals to collect a tripledouble (double figures in any three of the five major statistical categories) when he had 19 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, along with three steals and a career high-tying four shot blocks, in 39 minutes at Milwaukee last November 11.
However, his accomplishment was put to waste as the Lakers dropped a 98-90 decision to NBA scoring leader Giannis Antetokounmpo (31.7 ppg) and the Bucks that sent the Tinseltown City squad to its third consecutive defeat (all away from the friendly Staples Center) and a miserable 5-8 mark overall.
At 20 years and 15 days, the 6-foot-6 playmaker out of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) surpassed The King LeBron James by five days. James was 20 and 20 when he chalked up 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists with the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 19, 2005 as a second-year pro out of high school.
Against the Bucks, Ball shot above .500 for the first time this season, going 7-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-5 from downtown, and 2-for-4 from the charity stripes.
Before then, Lonzo had owned the secondworst field goal percentage by a rookie in his first 12 career games during the shot clock era (since 1954-55) at .292 (42-of-144). Who has the infamous all-time mark? Wayne Hightower, who was .268 from the field in his initial dozen appearances with the San Francisco Warriors in 1962-63. The 6-foot-8 Hightower finished with a .354 FG clip (192-for543) in 66 games during his rookie season.
Going into the Lakers’ last of a four-game road trip against the Phoenix Suns today (Manila time), Ball is averaging 9.7 points, 7.4 assists (seventh in the NBA), 6.8 rebounds, 1.31 steals and 1.08 blocked shots in 33.5 minutes as a starter with the team.
Ball’s shooting percentages currently are .314 (49-for-156) from the field, including .250 (16-for-64) from the three-point area, and .500 (12-for-24) from the free-throw line.
Greatness in the NBA has been predicted for Ball, proclaimed by many as the next Jason Kidd, a Hall-of-Fame-bound 6-foot-4 playmaker who currently remains No. 2 on the all-time NBA list in both assists and steals behind John Stockton (Utah Jazz) and ninth in three-point field goals made even after having retired four years ago.
Kidd, who hung up his jersey in the summer of 2013, is now in his fourth year as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Is Ball overrated? Perhaps at this time, even as the NBA Rookie of the Year race remains up for grabs despite the preseason pronouncement of Ball’s dad LaVar that his son is a cinch for the Eddie Gottlieb hardware.
Who knows, Ball could well really be a great player in the mold of Kidd down the road.