Certain caveats apply: the Phoenix Suns are incredibly awful; it’s just one game; his 29 points came on 27 shots; etc. Still. Lonzo Ball badly needed a bounce-back performance to wash away the stink of Patrick Beverley’s nether regions, and last night he got a good one, recording 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in a Lakers win:
Here’s the thing: Yes, the Suns are trash. But there will always be trash teams in the NBA, and you could give Trey Burke a thousand cracks at the 2017-18 Phoenix Suns and once or twice in there he might, might muster up the concentration and physical coordination to put his shoes on the correct feet. Plenty of NBA players will not put up that line in a victory over the Suns this season. That Lonzo did it as a teenager, and in a victory, is something!
I have a feeling his scoring numbers, in particular, will fluctuate like this over the course of his rookie season, in no small part because Lonzo seems deeply committed to finding openings in the defense, instead of forcing them. Some nights there will be openings for him to shoot, and some nights he will be guarded by Pat Beverley. Last night the Suns were playing him to shoot by going far under screens, and so Lonzo did some shooting, and punished the Suns often enough that the next team might play him a little closer and fight a little harder over screens—that might be a night where Lonzo’s attempts slip back into the single digits. That’s fine! He’s a rookie, and a teenager, and is just generally a different sort of player. While he figures things out, these are the swings.
Incidentally, there will be swings for NBA fans, too, as Lonzo stans come to remember that he really is just a rookie playing on a bad team, and Ball haters come to accept that he really is more than hype. His shot’s still funky, and he’s still not great finishing around the basket, but he does a lot of cool shit out there, and last night was a fun reminder.