The Los Angeles Lakers have been literally unstoppable since Lonzo Ball returned from a lengthy MCL sprain recovery. The team has won four straight games since Ball started playing again, albeit without him suiting up for their win against the Sacramento Kings.
Since Ball’s return, the Lakers are outscoring teams by 23.5 points per 100 possessions while he’s on the floor and 10 points per 100 possessions when he sits. Meaning, the Lakers have still been solid while Ball is out and have made legit strides coming out of the All-Star break, but they’ve also been absolutely steamrolling teams when he is in.
Boxscore watchers might minimize Ball’s impact on the Lakers’ win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night as he put up just eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.
But the rookie point guard also dished seven assists, snatched eight rebounds and swiped six steals in a typically well-rounded game for the young floor general.
Ball finished a team-high +24 on the night, and Lakers head coach Luke Walton seemed to feel that was reflective of Ball’s impact and being the top player who stepped foot on the court, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“He was great. To me, he was probably the best player on the court tonight. And I think he only shot five times, which is why we’ve been so high on him from Day 1. He’s one of the very unique players that doesn’t matter if he’s taking shots and scoring 20 or not, he can impact the game all over. He was doing that for us tonight. All around, in my opinion, the best player on the floor tonight.”
Ball is the type of player whose value is difficult to judge at first glance. His shot is wonkier-looking than some taped-together MacGuyver invention, he doesn’t have an ankle-breaking crossover and he isn’t an athlete that jumps out of the gym.
What he is, as cliche as it’s become to say, is a winner. Statistics show the Lakers never play faster than when Ball is on the floor, and never play slower than when he sits. The team also never assists on less of its buckets (55.5 percent) when Ball sits and never assists more (60.7 percent) than when he’s on the floor.
How fast Ball thinks, how quickly he passes and how he almost never reads things the wrong way make the Lakers a better team every single time he steps on the court.
What’s been true almost all year outside of a few duds was true once again against the Heat, and maybe if Walton and other Lakers continue to point it out, people will start to notice how much better Ball makes the Lakers go.
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