Because There Aren’t Enough Lakers Props: Lonzo Ball’s Future

Matthew Jordan

Monday, July 9, 2018 1:34 PM UTC

Monday, Jul. 9, 2018 1:34 PM UTC

Not sure if you heard, but the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James. What does this mean for the future of Lonzo Ball? BetOnline offers a few props.

So, do you have Lakers fatigue yet? This writer is about there in the wake of LeBron James jumping ship from Cleveland to Los Angeles as a free agent. You can’t watch ESPN for more than about 5 consecutive minutes without some talking head barking his opinion about James. And it’s only going to get worse as the season gets closer; I guarantee you that at least half of L.A.’s games are going to be nationally televised on one of TNT, ESPN, ABC or the NBA Network. Whatever the allowed limit is. Shoot, the Lakers had 35 national TV games last year without LeBron.

We’ve talked plenty already about James here at SBR, but today we’ll examine one guy whose future with the team might now be in doubt: Lonzo Ball. BetOnline asks which team Ball will be playing his first regular-season game for in 2018-19: the Lakers (-300) or any other team (+200).

Most experts believe that Ball doesn’t fit with the Lakers now because James handles the ball so much and that’s Lonzo’s strength. What LeBron needs around him are shooters, and Ball is definitely not a good one. He shot just 36 percent overall in his rookie season and 30.5 percent from dep. Shoot, he didn’t even hit half his free throws (45.1 percent).

Then you have the whole LaVar Ball circus and the fact James isn’t going to put up with his big mouth. LaVar already has opened it, saying that his son will make LeBron better – as long as Lonzo has the ball. Except, it has been proven his teammates need to be adept playing off the ball. That’s one reason Kyrie Irving demanded a trade out of Cleveland as he was tired of deferring to James in that regard.

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"Lonzo ain't going to play off the ball," LaVar Ball said in a video posted by Overtime. "How's LeBron going to play point? Lonzo will be pushing, and he'll get it out of his hands too quick. We're going to play so fast, he'll throw [James] touchdown passes and he'll be scoring all day. Lonzo's gonna orchestrate it, and (LeBron's) gonna be fine with that as long as it results in winning."

ESPN has reported that James personally likes Lonzo Ball, who by all accounts is a good teammate (not his fault his dad is a clown), and I’m sure LeBron made his feelings known about the situation to Magic Johnson before signing. The Lakers also added veteran free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo, another guy who can’t shoot much and is ball dominant. BetOnline offers a few head-to-head props between Ball and Rondo:

  • Most assists per game: Rondo -160, Ball +120
  • Most points per game: Ball -350, Rondo +240
  • Most rebounds per game: Ball -170, Rondo +130
  • Most steals per game: Ball -130, Rondo -110
  • To start first game of regular season: Ball -200, Rondo +150

Ball averaged 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals in his 52 games in 2017-18. His season was cut short by a knee injury. Ball has been limited this summer due to a torn meniscus in that left knee. For now, the team expects him to be ready for the season but it’s possible Ball needs surgery.

The 32-year-old Rondo averaged 26.2 minutes last year with the Pelicans, putting up 8.3 points, 8.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He did raise his game in the playoffs as New Orleans swept Portland before running into the Warriors. Rondo says he’s not worried about starting and only wants to win. He has started 697 of his 779 career games.

There’s little question in my mind that Ball will be a Laker to start the season -- you don't just give away the No. 2 overall pick in the draft -- unless the Spurs want him as part of a package for Kawhi Leonard, and reports are they don’t because they already have a young point guard in Dejounte Murray. Ball also will start and play a good 10 minutes more per game, so I’d recommend backing him on all those props assuming that knee is healthy.

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