So the Lakers have a player in Lonzo Ball who is difficult to categorize. I mean, sure, he’s a point guard but beyond that things get murky. Is he as good or better a player as Stephen Curry? Is he the next coming of Magic Johnson? Can he have a career on par with Jason Kidd? Ricky Rubio? Will his dad ever shut up?
Early answers are no, no, maybe, possibly and a resounding NO!
Regardless of who Lonzo Ball is or the type of player he might be, there is no denying that he is the NBA equivalent of must-see-TV. Some watch him to be wow-ed by a no-look pass, others tune in to see his pocket picketed. Love him or hate him, you are going to watch. Which, in some way, I think was his dad’s endgame.
Mission accomplished Mr. Ball.
I am watching too. I don’t cheer when he gets punked, like he did by Patrick Beverly, but I don’t mind it. It’s all a part of the process he has to go through. I didn’t cheer when he fell one assist shy of being the youngest player in the history of the Association to register a triple double. I was too mesmerized by a good finish in a bad game.
I’m watching because of his potential. I don’t necessarily think he can rise to the level of a Magic Johnson, but can he? It’s possible, no matter how small the possibility, it’s possible. That alone makes me want to tune in to see him take steps. Now, in every players evolution they take steps forward, and backward. It’s just how things work out.
Sometimes Ball may look lie MJ, other times he may resemble Ricky Rubio. Other times, to the chagrin of many, he will look like Smush Parker (apologies to Smush.). It is that understanding that was the genesis of the the Lonzo Ball-ometer.
That’s right, the Lonzo Ball-ometer!
The Lonzo Ball-ometer will rank Balls performance after each game from best option to the worst. It will be updated after each Laker game. The fun thing about the Ball-ometer, aside from the fact that its called the Ball-ometer, is the measurements.
At the very top of Ball-ometer is Magic Johnson. Ball will earn an MJ rating by having a triple-double in a game the Lakers win that gives those watching at least one “WOW” moment. A “WOW” moment is impossible to define, but you will know it when you see it.
Just under a Magic Johnson is a Russell Westbrook. To earn this high water mark you have to have a triple-double and will your team to a win. If Ball had had one more assist in the game against the suns he would have earned a Westbrook.
This is where some OG readers may get mad at me, but next in the Ball-ometer is Oscar Robertson. Ball will get a Robertson ranking when he has a triple-double. Simple.
Next comes a Steve Nash. Keep in mind that Nash was a two-time MVP, so we are still in rarified air. A Nash is earned when you shoot well while registering a double-double in points and assists.
Next up is a John Stockton. Stockton was a steady force for the Utah Jazz. A 90% free throw shooter who rarely made mistakes. You earn a Stockton when you have less than five turnovers and double digits in assists.
A Stephen Curry rating comes when you score twenty or more while shooting a high percentage from long range but come up short in assists and rebounds. Not to be a hater, but as of October 2017 I’ve seen nothing yet in Ball’s game to convince me he will ever earn a Curry.
Pistol Pete Maravich was a player before his time. If he was in the Association today he would be a regular on ESPN highlights reels. He made passes that defied logic, I’m not kidding. He, like Ball, was a fan of the underhand full-court pass to a streaking teammate. I’m telling you, this guy was a player before his time. Ball will earn a Maravich when he has at least two “Wow” moments and a double-double in points and assists.
Next up is a nemesis of sorts for Ball. Before he was a coach in the Association Jason Kidd was a pretty good player. Because of the similarities between them, they both played college ball in California, they resemble each other, they are pass first players, etc it wasn’t uncommon to hear KIdd mentioned as a model for Ball. Lavar Ball was having none of that. He ranted about how his son was better, as he does. Kidd, to his credit, takes the comparison in stride and even called it a compliment.
A Kidd is like a Nash, sort of. Ball will earn a Kidd when he gets double-digit assists but shoots poorly.
Ricky Rubio has had a pretty good NBA career. There would be no shame in Ball equalling his career trajectory. Of course, the bar is set much higher however. A Rubio is a lot like a Kidd. Both require double digit assists, but while you can score a lot and still not shoot well, which would earn you a Kidd, a Rubio means Ball earned double-digit assists while scoring under double digits.
Jason Williams didn’t like his nickname, but it stuck. He will forever be remembered as “White Chocolate”. He had a respectable twelve year NBA career making All rookie first team and winning a championship in 2006. While he boasts a career assists average of 5.9 a good chunk of them were “Wow” assists. Ball earns a Williams if he has a single “Wow” moment and not much of anything else.
Finally, we have reached the lowest rung in the Ball-ometer. With apologies to the namesake, when Ball has a poor shooting night that results in less than double-digits in points, assists and rebounds he will have earned a Smush Parker.
Throughout the course of his first season Ball will likely live in the bottom rung on the Ball-ometer. The hope is that he shows flashes of brilliance that elevate his status and moves him up as the season progresses. We will update the Ball-ometer after every Laker game. While some Parkers are likely in his future, how excited are you to see a Johnson?
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!