Lonzo Ball was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers based on the hope that he could become a transcendent leader for a franchise in need of direction. Ball’s generational talent as a passer was enough for the Lakers to pin a lot of their hopes on the 19-year-old from Chino Hills.
Even before being drafted by the storied franchise, Ball’s ability saw him compared to some of the league’s greatest point guards ever. The top comparison by many was Jason Kidd, another California native whose passing and rebounding dominated games even when his shooting struggled.
The comparisons were not just made by fans and #DraftTwitter, however. In a story by ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, it was revealed that Luke Walton and his staff studied old film of Kidd (as well as Steve Nash and John Stockton) in order to better create an offense centered around a top high-usage passer:
Head coach Luke Walton, assistant Jesse Mermuys and the Lakers’ video staff went through hours of non-HD footage, studying three of the greatest passing point guards to ever play.
Walton pored over clips of John Stockton developing a Hall of Fame connection with Karl Malone in Utah, Steve Nash mastering the pick-and-roll with Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix and, most important, Jason Kidd igniting a transformative fast break in New Jersey.
“Just trying to find the best way to build out around the personnel we have,” Walton said. “We did some research on some older teams to try to come up with what we felt was best for our guys.”
The Lakers focused mostly on Kidd who Walton has an indirect relationship with through a mutual teammate in Richard Jefferson. It’s no secret that the Lakers have been implementing a Kidd-style offense, designed around letting Ball rebound the ball and push the pace in transition.
Of course, Walton and Mermuys are both wary of putting too many expectations on Lonzo as a rookie – although that ship may have sailed with Magic Johnson’s lofty goals and statements – saying that Kidd only reached that level as a veteran on the New Jersey Nets but that Ball holds the potential to reach that level:
“Not that we are putting that kind of pressure on Zo,” Mermuys said of the Kidd comparison, “but [we’re] just kind of trying to maximize his talent of throwing ahead and help him make it as easy as possible for him to do. Obviously J-Kidd is an incredible player. Every time we faced him, even late in his career, I was always amazed by his ability to kind of see the game before the game is actually happening. I was in the same sort of awe of Lonzo from the standpoint of the game being so slow for him as such a young person.
“For [Ball] to innately take [mental] snapshots and kind of see plays develop before they are happening, you can’t coach that. That is an incredible feel for the game and an incredible talent that very few guys have.”