When Lonzo Ball was drafted no. 2 overall in the 2017 draft, media attention was already high. Lavar Ball had already “spoke it into existence” that his son would be Rookie of the Year, claimed the Lakers would be taken to the playoffs by Lonzo and that he could beat Jordan 1V1…oh, and they had their own shoe. It may be plastic, held together by duct tape and look like something you could buy in the discount bin at K-Mart, but its a shoe nevertheless. While Lonzo sat quietly in the back, like a child tucking a tantrum in public, the attention is quickly drawn to the parent. Or in this case, it is vice-versa.
However, even when Lonzo was underperforming at the start of the season, his stock rose. Now as far as clicks and views go, it makes sense. Lavar Ball has built the hype. It’s fun to hate Lonzo due to the high expectations. Fun to hate on him for his overbearing father. It’s also an easy way to get views (we say this as a website who wants views). And while this may have its positives, there is now an alarming con to this.
Let’s compare 3 players:
Player A: 21.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 47.3 FG%
Player B: 25 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 44.4 FG%
Player C: 10 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 7.1 APG, 34.9 FG%
Player C is currently ahead of players A and B in All-Star voting. Player A is Lonzo Ball: Players B and C are Jimmy Butler and Devin Booker respectively.
This is where the media circus surrounding the Ball family is a danger. The All-Star game is a big deal, an accolade that is pinned to your name long after you’re gone. Even some of the best talents in recent years have never made an All-Star game: Goran Dragic, pre-Kardashian curse Lamar Odom and Marcus Camby to name a few. And in the current year, Lonzo Ball is ahead of the guy who dropped 70 against the Celtics and the guy who was Second Team All-NBA and one of the leagues best defenders. How has this happened?
Well, Lonzo Ball has been in the medias eye. He has been the one that the media loves to discuss. He’s the “no. 1 guy in LA”, despite the fact that Kyle Kuzma is the guy they should be building around. Yet, fans and even Magic Johnson himself, are convinced that Lonzo is there guy because ESPN and Bleacher Report want to keep writing articles on what Lonzo had for breakfast and whether he gave a gift to his mother of father fist on Christmas.
While Lonzo is an all-round player, the Lakers traded away D’Angelo Russel, a score first point guard and a player who was becoming a leader, to make room for Lonzo Ball. Even before he was drafted, Magic Johnson was pumping up Lonzo Ball as “the future of the Lakers”. Yet, you’re future cannot be shooting a dismal below 40% from the field and, while he is 11th in scoring, Ball has the worst shooting percentage of any other rookie in the league. This was a player who was supposed to dominate from day 1.
We’re not here to say that Lonzo Ball is a terrible player. It’s the opposite in fact. Lonzo Ball has the ability to be a very special player one day, and when its all said and done, could have number 2 hanging in the rafters. However, the media circus that has followed him, and media persistence to make him a focal point, he’s now being voted for in place of players who legitimately deserve a spot.
While it may not seem like much, remember: the media vote for the Rookie of the Year. Players like Simmons, Mitchell, Bell, Kuzma, Dennis Smith Jr, Markanen and others lose votes to a player who, although good, is far from ROY worthy. They think in controversy, rather than who the best player is. The media also have a 25% say in who makes the All-Star team. Imagine how many clicks and views a website gets for posting an article that justifies why Lonzo should have finished 3rd in ROY voting or should have made the All-Star team. The answer: alot.
Now, will Ball actually make the All-Star game? That is very unlikely. However, for every vote that people throw at Lonzo, thats another vote less for much better players who have earnt that spot. Think Nikola Jokic, Mike Conley, Bradley Beal; players who contributed to their respective teams. Players who deserve to have their names be considered among the best in the NBA. And just like in politics, every vote counts.
Ball’s entire career is currently being held up by media members who are willing to throw away any criticism of Lonzo Ball in exchange for views. And now, it has a very real impact. Devin Booker, a man who is the heart and soul of a dying basketball city, may be forced to sit on the sidelines because 100,000 people wasted their vote on Lonzo Ball.