The Ball Family has been vindicated. Vindicated in a short-term sense, but vindicated nevertheless.
Lonzo Ball, after a terrible first game, thrived in the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League, and the Lakers’ first-round draft pick was named MVP of the session. He averaged 16.3 points, a league-leading 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
Ball joins Blake Griffin (2009) and John Wall (2010) as the third top-two draft picks to be named summer league MVP, per ESPN, and he’s being called an elite passer by basketball insiders.
“He was just incredible,” Lakers summer league coach Jud Buechler said. “He really was. Really happy for him to get the MVP. One of the most impressive things is he missed two games and only played half of one game and still got the MVP. He really creates the environment where when one of your top players is sharing the ball like that, it’s just contagious with everybody else.”
One of those games Ball missed was the championship, which the Lakers won without him. The other was against the Kings, opening an opportunity for his naysayers to take more shots at him and his father, the blustering LaVar Ball.
De’Aaron Fox, you see, plays for the Kings, and some theorized that Lonzo sat out the game to duck him. Ball and Fox will be compared throughout their rookie seasons and beyond, largely because Ball was the more highly-touted NBA prospect – and higher drafted – despite being outplayed by Fox twice in college. Fox dropped 39 on Ball’s UCLA squad in Kentucky’s 86-75 over the Bruins in the Sweet 16.
In a since-deleted tweet, Fox seemed to be taking a back-handed swipe at Ball about missing the game.
De’Aaron Fox’s since-deleted tweet, presumably in reference to no rematch with Ball. pic.twitter.com/tnHVfOxAAw
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) July 10, 2017
Crazy talk, LaVar said.
“Duck De’Aaron Fox? Have you heard about De’Aaron Fox? Hell nah. You can’t hear about him unless he puts my boy’s name in his mouth. He been doing all this stuff and ain’t nobody been talking about him. So he and his dad gotta link themselves to us to be relevant. De’Aaron Fox had a whole season and the only thing they talk about is 39 points against Zo. You don’t put Zo in a sentence, nobody cares about him.”
He has a point or two somewhere in there.
So we didn’t get to see Ball vs. Fox in the summer league. We’ll have plenty of chances to see these two promising point guards go head-to-head during the regular season – the Lakers and Kings, of course, play in the same division.