Open Letter to NBA GMs: Lonzo Ball, Buyers Beware
Dear NBA GMs,
The Playoffs are coming into focus for some of you, the rest are headed into draft prep. As you know, the draft is the great equalizer in the league. Small market teams and large market teams alike have an equal opportunity to identify and draft talent to help their franchises. Most experts agree that this year’s draft is a deep one, with several players who could turn the fortunes of an NBA franchise. Among those potential impact players is Lonzo Ball and surely some, if not all of you, will consider taking him. Just a word of caution: buyers beware.
Lonzo is a 6’6″ point guard with handles, court vision, and leadership, and is an exciting all-around prospect. Some have compared his game to Jason Kidd, others Magic Johnson. His dad calls him “Magic Johnson with a jumpshot.” Therein lies the problem. Lonzo is a can’t miss prospect and all of you should be interested in him. However, Lonzo’s father, Lavar, should be a deal-killer for all of you, unless you want to turn your team into the Sacramento Kings with DeMarcus Cousins.
By now you have all read the outlandish claims Lavar has been making in the media. He claims that he would have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one. He claims that his son Lonzo would have a greater affect on the Lakers than Magic Johnson did when he was drafted. He has already demanded a one billion dollar shoe deal for his three sons. He says his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry. Not Steph Curry during his days at Davidson, but Steph Curry today, the two-time defending MVP of the best league in the world. He claims that if you swapped Steph Curry with Lonzo Ball today, that the Warriors would be a better team with Lonzo. The man is delusional. So, all I have to say is buyer beware.
Let’s look at a few of these claims to see how likely (or unlikely) it is that Lavar is right.
Claim #1 The Ball boys are worth a one billion dollar shoe contract.
Kristaps Porzingis signed the richest shoe contract for a European player when he signed a deal with Adidas for $3M-$6M annually. Kevin Durant’s shoe deal is worth $300M over ten years. Terms of Lebron’s and Curry’s shoe deals were not made public, but it’s doubtful that either are as rich over ten years (Lebron signed a lifetime deal with Nike). The Ball boys would be landing the richest shoe contract in sports history before any of them played a minute of professional basketball.
Claim #2 Lonzo’s impact on the Lakers would be greater than Magic Johnson’s
The year before Magic arrived in LA, the Lakers had All-Star players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes, and a budding star in Norm Nixon. They finished 3rd in the Pacific Division at 47-35. Magic came to town and led the Lakers to a 60-22 record, a division title, and an NBA title. Magic averaged 18 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists on 53% shooting as a rookie. Magic had just come off a National Championship at Michigan State the year before.
The Lakers this season look to finish somewhere in the 22 or 23 win range. So for Lavar to be right as far as “greater impact” than Magic, Lonzo would be leading the Lakers to at least 35-37 wins while having a similar statistical impact. Lonzo averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, and 6 rebounds for a Bruins team that lost in the Sweet 16. In Magic Johnson’s final college season he averaged 17.1 points, 8.4 assists, and 7.3 rebounds. Can Lonzo make that same step that Magic did? If recent history is any indication, the answer is no. No NBA rookie before or since Magic has averaged 18/7/7. However, Oscar averaged 30/10/9.7 as an ABA rookie 56 years ago. We’ll see if Lonzo is as special as Lavar says he is, but beware, those players don’t come around very often.
Claim #3 Lonzo is better today than Steph Curry
Listen, this claim is outrageous, but I will just say this, Steph Curry has won two NBA MVP awards over the likes of Lebron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant. Curry has been racking up three-pointers, steals, assists, and most importantly, wins. He is an NBA champ, a scoring champ, and the back-to-back MVP, you should probably hold off making this claim until your son has shown that he will at least make the starting line-up in the NBA. There have been lots of college greats not pan out in the NBA. Don’t you think that Lonzo looks a little bit like fellow Bruin great Toby Bailey? Just sayin’.
Claim #4 “I could beat Michael Jordan 1-on-1.”
I’m sorry, but when any human on this earth claims that they would beat the consensus greatest player in the history of basketball in a game of one-on-one, you have to laugh. This one is barely worth humoring with a response, but here goes. Not only is Michael Jordan the greatest player of all-time, he is also one of the greatest perimeter defenders the league has ever seen. He was named to the All-Defensive Team nine times and won Defensive Player of the Year in 1987-88. He was not stopped on offense by the greatest defensive minds of the era, throwing two or three defenders at him, and constantly being hounded by the other team’s top defender. MJ still won 11 scoring titles. Those are accolades of a player that tends to do well in a one-on-one setting.
Lavar on the other hand, is listed at 6-6 (not the 6-8 he claimed), shot a “scorching” 40% from the floor. That was in college. If Lavar was talking about taking MJ now in their old age, you’ve gotta check out this leaked footage of Lavar “playing” city league. https://elitesportsny.com/2017/03/26/lavar-ball-footage-leaks-confirming-already-knew-stinks-video/. I personally love his effort and defense (wink, wink). I’d love to see MJ take it at this guy and shut him up. At least he could take advantage when MJ put him on the line, where he shoots a stellar 45 percent.
The man parading himself around all of the talk shows and making these claims is the one that you, Mr. General Manager, will be negotiating Lonzo Ball’s contracts with. He has his branded t-shirts selling on-line for 57 dollars. He already thinks Lonzo is the greatest player on the planet. How easy do you think it’s going to be to manage that ego? What about salary demands? I can’t wait to see what he wants to do in the collective bargaining negotiations to help he and his boys make “the money they deserve.” The phrase “negotiating with a terrorist” comes to mind. All I have to say is buyers beware.
It’s too bad. From everything I have seen, Lonzo is a good player. He may be a great player, but his dad carries too much baggage and drama to draft him. So, take a look at Josh Jackson, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk, but don’t waste your time looking at Ball. It’s just not worth the drama.
Every NBA fan sick of seeing Lavar Ball