In what’s widely regarded as one of the best rookie classes in recent memory, Ball, who the Lakers selected with the No. 2 overall pick in June, is the most talked-about and polarizing prospect, often due to matters not pertaining to basketball. When evaluating Ball p... read more
In what’s widely regarded as one of the best rookie classes in recent memory, Ball, who the Lakers selected with the No. 2 overall pick in June, is the most talked-about and polarizing prospect, often due to matters not pertaining to basketball. When evaluating Ball purely from an on-court perspective, however, his preternatural court vision, solid length (6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan) and sound decision making make him an ideal prototype for a franchise point guard, if not a perennial All-Star. The Lakers clearly recognized as much, trading away the No. 2 overall pick from 2015 and presumptive point guard of the future, D’Angelo Russell, to the Nets prior to the draft to clear the way for Ball to take the reins of the offense. In his lone season at UCLA, Ball averaged 14.6 points (on 55.1 percent shooting), 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 35.1 minutes per contest, displaying a level of efficiency that was jaw dropping even for the college level. Ball’s unorthodox jump shot mechanics raise concern that his accuracy from the perimeter may be an issue at the next level when he’s guarded by longer defenders, with his 38.2 and 23.8 percent marks from the field and 3-point line, respectively, in the Las Vegas Summer League adding credence to that notion. Even so, Ball still wowed observers with his playmaking skills and claimed MVP honors with averages of 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals in his six games, illustrating the major impact he can have even when his shot isn’t consistently falling. Once the regular season arrives, Ball will have more established scoring threats in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jordan Clarkson, Brook Lopez and Julius Randle to take the pressure off, allowing the rookie to focus on what he does best: sparking the transition game and setting up teammates for open looks. It may not take long for Ball to establish himself as a regular threat to go off for a triple-double on any given night, and if he shows improvement with his shooting as the campaign unfolds, he could very well finish the year as the Lakers’ top Fantasy contributor.