Lakers’ Lonzo Ball barely cracks Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players list
Ball had a somewhat disappointing year as a rookie thanks to poor shooting and injury problems. He posted decent averages of 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game, but the Chino Hills native shot a poor 36 percent from the field as the year-long starter in La La Land. He struggled from all other areas as well, shooting a mere 30.5 percent from deep and a ghastly 45.1 percent from the foul line.
Ball wasn’t in SI’s Top 100 ranking at all last season, but cracked ESPN’s ranking at No. 63 (without having played a lone NBA game), already ranking above Carmelo Anthony, who was coming off 14 straight 20-plus point seasons between the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks.
SI’s Ben Golliver, who justified Ball’s place in the Top 100, noted the good, the bad, and the ugly stemming from his rookie season in the league, calling it a “baptism by fire.”
“At his best, the 20-year-old Ball plays a beautiful weirdo brand of hoops that would merit a full chapter if “Free Darko” ever released a sequel,” wrote Golliver. “His passing and vision — hailed as elite by pre-draft analysts — lived up to the hype. He proved to be a capable pace-setter and a strong rebounder for his position. Most impressively, he was a plus defender right out of the gate thanks to his good size and instincts.”
Ball will still need to bring his shooting and shot selection up to par before he can start making the climb up this list. He possesses all the right tools to be an impressive talent for the long haul, but he has still yet to pair it with the work ethic and maturity to hone his craft.