At the outset of the regular season, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball came under a lot of scrutiny as he struggled severely to shoot the ball. As the season has gone on, however, Lonzo has improved in all facets of the game and his impact on the Lakers has become crystal clear.
The easiest way to measure it is the team’s record without Ball, sitting at 0-8, entering Friday’s game which is another he will miss due to a knee sprain. The Lakers look much more fluid when Ball is on the court and they are significantly better on both sides of the floor whenever he plays.
While that is clear to those who watch the games, Ball’s box scores can sometimes lead to uninformed assumptions that he isn’t doing much to affect the game.
His impact isn’t lost on Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, who compared Ball to legendary tech moguls Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in a “Connected With…” interview with Mike Bresnahan on Spectrum SportsNet that airs Friday night:
“The first thing I said about Lonzo, I said he’s a ‘transcendent talent.’ What I meant by that is, his performance transcends just the box score. … You can’t just look at his shooting percentage or you can’t just look at the number of points he’s scoring to assess his impact on the team. I liken it to, and again, transcendent talent, his talents transcend the box score. You look at great visionaries like Steve Jobs with Apple, or you look at Bill Gates with Microsoft.”
Pelinka further explained his reasoning for the comparison:
“If you went and pulled Steve Jobs’ college transcript at Reed College, or you looked at Bill Gates’ college transcript at Harvard, it would show someone that may have struggled and dropped out. So if you just looked at the box score, you’d say, ‘this person is probably a failure.’ But those great visionaries just have an impact beyond the way people get judged, and I think Lonzo is like that. To experience his impact on the Lakers, you really have to go to a game. And you have to see just the way he leads our team, the way he defends and disrupts passes, rebounds and pushes pace. We’ve been thrilled with the impact he has on our team, we know the growth is going to continue and we’re still ecstatic about Lonzo Ball.”
While the comparison is an unexpected one, as no one would think to compare an NBA point guard with a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, Pelinka is pretty spot on about the things that Lonzo does for the Lakers. He brings so much to the team and really is the engine that keeps them going.
Hopefully the Lakers will eventually figure some things out and be able to get a win without him, but for the time being it shows just how valuable he is even if his numbers aren’t as flashy as some other rookies.
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