Thursday night was a huge night for many franchises across the NBA. As one of the deepest NBA Drafts in recent memory got underway in Brooklyn, a cloud of suspense hung over the Los Angeles Lakers. Owning the number two overall selection in the Draft, LA was two days removed from trading D'Angelo Russell, their former point guard of the future, due to his locker room issues and lack of leadership capabilities, and needed to make a statement. The league's most storied franchise needed a face, and the basketball world watched as commissioner Adam Silver took the stage to announce the pick. When the Lakers selected Lonzo Ball, the Chino Hills and UCLA product, LA had found that face; a star playmaker who resembles Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, and even, at times, is similar in style to his new organization's President, Magic Johnson, the greatest to ever play the position. Despite all the positives, however, there remain multiple concerns about whether or not Ball will become a star in this league, but in my opinion, are unfounded, and I believe Lonzo is on track to be the light that leads the Lakers out of this stretch of darkness.
There have been multiple concerns about Lonzo's jump shot. His motion is unorthodox, as his arm angle is significantly different from the ideal position, and he has to quickly rotate his arm to correct his shot's trajectory. However, his release is actually quicker than that of the average NBA player, alleviating fears that he would struggle to get his shot off at the professional level. This speaks volumes about his natural athletic ability, and despite the odd form, the shot has proved deadly at the collegiate level, as he shot over 40% from three point range, numbers of an elite shooter at the NBA level. Moreover, he does not even need to rely on his shot to be an effective player. Ball is unquestioned as an incredible finisher at the rim, and will have the ability to dominate the ball and drive in order to get to the hoop in a wide-open Lakers backcourt next season. Perhaps his greatest talent however, is his passing, as he has once-in-a-generation type court vision and basketball IQ, and these talents will help make the teammates around him better, as well as open up space for his own creativity in the free-flowing Laker offense.
However, most of the on-the-court concerns are minuscule in comparison to one issue off the court: LaVar Ball. The father of the California product is a blunt, ruthless, and offensive presence who has made it his mission to promote his son and and his new Big Baller Brand with controversial news statements that get his name in the news. He effectively forced the Lakers into drafting Lonzo in the first place, as his self-proclaimed "speak it into existence" hyped up his son to the point of no return; it would have been PR suicide for Los Angeles had the team passed on the local prospect. There are concerns that LaVar will not step away as Lonzo's career progresses, however, I believe these fears, even if they are valid, should not be worrying. No matter what LaVar's antics off the court do to affect sentiment in the media, at the end of the day, Lonzo's play will be the sole determining factor when deciding his legacy in the NBA. LaVar has effectively marketed both his child and his brand thus far, without doing any real damage to their status on the court. Even though he sparked endless debate and controversy, his son still went number two overall to the exact team he wanted in the NBA Draft. He has had the last laugh in every statement he has made, and Lonzo's on court performance has validated his behavior, and should this continue, it will continue to not matter what LaVar says. Talk is cheap, play is everything. If Lonzo busts, LaVar will take his lion's share of the criticism, and rightly so. But if he truly is a transcendent star, there is no reason why he should not receive the exact same amount of credit for effectively creating a superstar through the outlet of the media. Lonzo Ball, in my opinion, is the star of the future, and these concerns will appear as mere small bumps in the road at the end of the day when we look back on this draft. To conclude, the future is here in Tinseltown, and things are looking up for the Lakers.