Lonzo Ball is off to a very confusing start to his NBA career.
On one hand, he has filled the stat sheet, averaging 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.9 assists in 33.1 minutes per game in the Los Angeles Lakers’ first 12 games. He has been on the floor a lot and has immediately been thrust into the spotlight in one of the league’s largest markets.
On the other hand, he’s off to an historically-bad start from a shooting perspective, going 42-for-144 (29.2 percent) overall, including 13-of-59 (22.0 percent) from three-point range. He’s forced shots, has seemed to check out during some games and hasn’t gotten into a groove whatsoever. As a result, defenders aren’t giving him much respect, especially on the perimeter, which has led to him admitting that his slump has "gotten into his head".
Since his college days, Ball has been compared to NBA Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd. Both are tall point guards. Ball went to UCLA and Kidd went to the University of California. Ball was a triple-double threat in college while Kidd is one of the all-time greats in that regard at the NBA level. The similarities are obvious.
Asked about Ball in advance of the matchup between the Lakers and his Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Kidd, now an NBA coach, had a very clear message: pump the brakes.
"I am not saying it is not fair [to make the comparison], but it is too early," Kidd recently told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com in an interview about Ball. "People are talking about Rookie of the Year; we are already talking about awards [for Ball]. But it is really early and we are 12 games into this. We are jumping the gun a little bit. Let's enjoy and watch this young kid play and then we will make the comparison at 40 games [or more].”
Since Ball is one of the most polarizing players in the league already (due to the influence of his father LaVar), some have already labeled him as a bust while others have anointed him as a definite future Hall-of-Famer.
"Let him get some games under his belt. I truly think he is talented,” Kidd said. “Today we want everything microwaved, we want it overnight or we want it Googled. We want to see the answer now.”
Previously, Ball was asked about the comparison to Kidd’s game.
"I'm just grateful for it," Ball said at the time. "He's a legend. That's enough said… He was just very fun to watch. Went out there and competed every night and a triple-double threat all the time.”
Through their first 12 games, it’s obvious why Ball and Kidd have been compared. Ball is averaging 8.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.5 turnovers. Kidd averaged 9.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.4 turnovers through his first 12 contests. Kidd also struggled shooting the ball through his first dozen games, going 34.5 percent from the field and 13.8 percent from beyond the three-point line.
However, as Kidd proved, it’s possible to turn things around in a meaningful way.
"Everybody talks about my jump shot and everybody said I couldn't shoot," admitted Kidd. “But you got to work on it. Also when I shot it, I knew if it wasn't going in, I was chasing that thing down to try to get the rebound. Which I came up with some and didn't come up with some. If I saw it was off, I had a sense of where I think it was going to bounce to, and I came up with some of them, which led to some assists.”
It’s worth mentioning that by the end of his career, Kidd ranked top 10 all-time in made three-pointers.
After the 40-game mark (as proposed by Kidd), it will be interesting to see how similar Ball’s numbers are to his. If they are nearly identical, it seems as though the Bucks coach will be forced to buy into the comparison.