Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock with no Wifi, you know that Lonzo Ball was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade last month. Rumors of a deal between the two teams surfaced when Anthony Davis signed with Klutch Sports before the start of last season. The failed midseason attempt to make the trade turned into a full out debacle. The Lakers finally moved the eldest Ball brother and a good chunk of their future (Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and multiple draft picks) in the off-season. While some would view this as a downgrade, it appears that Ball is optimistic about the change of scenery.
Lonzo Ball is Excited to Play With New Orleans Pelicans
Lonzo Ball Will Open up His Game in the Big Easy
Ball has had two up and down seasons in LA to start out his NBA career. His rookie campaign was plagued with injury. He only played 52 games while battling a shoulder strain and other setbacks during the season. He was bitten by the injury bug again last year. Ball played five fewer games than he did in 2017-2018. Another hindrance to Ball’s production was the addition of LeBron James to the roster.
While most would relish the opportunity to play with a generational talent like James, having both of them on the floor simultaneously is counterproductive. James flourishes when surrounded by shooters who create spacing. Ball excels when he handles the basketball, controls decision making, and dictates the action on the floor. Ball is not a shooter and James has been the predominant ball handler on every team he has played on since he laced up his first pair of Nikes.
It’s obvious why Ball would welcome the opportunity to play in another setting. In New Orleans, he will be the primary ball handler. He also brings along two guys he’s familiar and comfortable with. Ball said he was “happy to go with two guys he’s comfortable with in Ingram and Hart”. He said he was excited to see what they could do together. Ingram will also benefit from playing in a more free-flowing environment. Ingram is a slasher and a scorer who needs touches in rhythm. Having him stand at the three-point line waiting for the ball to come to him doesn’t maximize his talents. There were high expectations on Ingram since being taken with the second pick in the 2016 draft. Perhaps with the move, he will fully realize that seemingly limitless potential.
Lonzo Ball Will Have New Toys to Play With
Ball will also have some new firepower in his arsenal as well. He’ll team up with Jrue Holiday who just had his best season as a pro. He averaged a career-high 21 points per game to go along with 7.7 assists. With Ball taking over point guard responsibilities, Holiday will get easier opportunities and higher quality looks. If Ball has proven one thing, it’s he’ll put you in a position to score. Ball and Holiday are going to torture opposing backcourts defensively as well.
The Pelicans also added J.J. Redick in free agency. Anyone who has played organized basketball before has heard the phrase “the passer helps the shooter.” It’s hard to find a better pairing of a passer and a shooter on one team. Redick is a certified sniper and Ball will get him some great looks. Redick will make life easier for Ball as well. He spreads the floor and creates driving lanes. Ball is most effective offensively when he can penetrate the lane and get to the basket. He’s an adept finisher and he can make quick reads. He should be a more aggressive scorer when he is sharing the floor with Redick.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Ball going to New Orleans is seeing him paired up with Zion Williamson. This could very well be the reincarnation of Lob City. Ball and Williamson are going to be a terror in transition for opposing teams. With the way Ball likes to push the tempo and Williamson’s ability to run the floor, the Pelicans will at the very least be regulars on SportsCenter’s top 10. They will also be tough to stop in the pick and roll. Teams are going to have to make some tough decisions on defense when trying to stop these two.
Big Baller Brand Can Flourish in a New City
This move will not only help Ball on the court but off of it as well. If you are looking to build and further a brand, there is no better place than Los Angeles. But in Ball’s case, he was in a lose-lose situation. When you’re on a team with LeBron James, you are playing second fiddle. It doesn’t matter who you are. You will also be the target of criticism when the team faces any shortcomings. With the move, Ball will have the opportunity to create a new fan base in a new city. Playing in LA also comes with unbelievable pressure. It’s very difficult to live up to the standards of guys like Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal.
The fans are impatient and the media is unrelenting. In New Orleans, Ball will have the chance to continue to build his brand without the lofty expectations of playing for a championship franchise. Here, even menial success will be viewed positively. In LA, winning immediately and often is expected.
Every ballplayer that grows up in Southern California dreams of playing for the Lakers. But Ball is looking forward to starting a new chapter in his career after a tumultuous two years in the City of Angels. There is no doubt that he will make the most of it.
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