The Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Magic Johnson obviously had visions of his young prospect being an effective pairing with LeBron James, ushering in a new era of Lakers dominance.
Unfortunately, Lonzo and James never quite meshed. The former UCLA standout averaged 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in his lone season with James, and the pair failed to make the playoffs.
Eventually, Lonzo was shipped out of LA along with Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart in exchange for New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis. The same season the move was made, the Lakers won their 17th title in franchise history.
This week, LaVar explained why Lonzo failed with the Lakers and whose fault it truly was.
“LeBron didn’t do nothing [wrong],” LaVar said, in regards to why his son couldn’t make it work with James.
“It was just the coaching over there. Coaches didn’t know how to play LeBron and Lonzo together. The one time they did that they both had a triple-double in the game.
Talen Horton-Tucker may want to delete this LeBron tweet before he gets traded to the Kings. https://t.co/hvKPtB7b98
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 16, 2020
“That’s what should have been going on that whole time. It was just the coaching over there that didn’t fit. You saw they brought in one new guy and they won a championship. Just by bringing in AD and a new coach. It was that simple.”
Given Luke Walton’s struggles as head coach of the Lakers and Sacramento Kings it is very possible that LaVar is right about him being the problem.
Yikes Shaq. https://t.co/CBPHOixGJt
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 15, 2020
That said – Lonzo hasn’t exactly experienced an Ingram-like career resurgence in New Orleans. Last year, he averaged 11.8 points, 7.0 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. Those numbers are obviously better than what he was doing with the Lakers, but hardly the sort of stats you’d expect from a successful top-two pick.
Lonzo’s injuries have also been somewhat worrisome. As a rookie he suffered a sprained MCL. In Year 2 he played only 47 games due to ankle issues. Year 3 was more of the same, as he struggled with an adductor strain.
Lonzo is still only 23 years old and has plenty of time to right the ship. But at some point, both he and his father will have to acknowledge that the problem with his career up to this point hasn’t been everyone else, it’s Lonzo himself.