“I think just do what it takes to win,” said Lonzo Ball on sacrificing his role for team success. “For me, sacrificing is all about winning.”
Ball, the new starting point-guard for the Chicago Bulls, has truly gone through an unordinary NBA journey. From going #2 overall in the NBA Draft to then being traded to the small market New Orleans Pelicans to becoming a Chicago Bull, Ball has fought through adversity from the media, fans and even his own family. The overzealous expectations put upon him by fans (and specifically his father, Lavar Ball) has not only put the spotlight on him, but also hurt his play on the court.
“I think it’s just part of the journey. Everybody has a different path. For me, it’s been up and down the last four years. I’m blessed and everything I go through is for a reason,” said Ball. If there is any ideal time for Ball to break out and become the player that scouts saw for him as a flashy guard out of UCLA, it is this season.
The Chicago Bulls are a great fit for Ball’s skill set on paper, especially with his improvements over time. With stud Zach Lavine, new addition DeMar DeRozan and All-Star Nikola Vucevic, Ball has plenty of options to spread the ball around and facilitate his wealth of offensive options. His overall talent on the court gives head coach Billy Donovan the ability to take Chicago’s playstyle in many directions. To start the season, Ball is switching back to a position he is most comfortable with, the traditional point-guard role.
Chicago’s wealth of offensive options have certainly played a key role in Ball’s return to a traditional point guard and head coach Billy Donovan will be sure to allow him to facilitate the offense with the young journeyman’s brilliant playmaking abilities. Playmaking is just one of the many upgrades that Ball has achieved throughout his short tenure in the league.
One of the highest criticisms Ball has received throughout his time in the league has been his unorthodox jumpshot. While he shot over 40% from the 3-point line during his time at UCLA and had overall positive shooting splits, his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers told a different story, as he looked like a completely different player with poor shooting performances that limited the offensive potential of Los Angeles. Ball shot just 30.5% from the 3-point line. His change in shooting mechanics has not only paid off for him, but also allowed him to regain the trust of NBA coaches and fans. With Ball’s ability to play as a spot up shooter for Chicago in clutch situations, he is able to help expand the court and provide shooting options for a Bulls lineup that could use it.
It’s clear that Ball is in the best position of his career to flourish. He has had to go from a traditional guard role to an atypical spot-up shooter and then finally back to his original role throughout his time in the league. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans have seen little team success with Ball controlling the offense despite having stars Zion Williamson and former All-Star Brandon Ingram as options. Poor coaching and offensive strategies have limited Ball’s ability to play his brand of basketball on these teams and with Donovan’s ability to cater to his players, a breakout season is certainly in his reach.
The young guard needs to absolutely take advantage of everything Chicago has to offer, especially with a real chance at his first entrance into the NBA playoffs. It’s time for him to take the next step in his career and transform himself into a legendary player. At just 23 years old, this could certainly be the move for Ball that transforms his career and transitions him into the beginning of his prime years in the league. On the historic grounds of another great guard from Chicago, Ball must be great and there’s no doubt in my mind that if Chicago does not do well with Ball running point this year, it’s certainly going to hurt how other franchises view him later in his career.