Sports

Bulls’ Lonzo Ball doing something unprecedented in Chicago

Things are finally working out for Lonzo Ball in Chicago.

Things are finally working out for Lonzo Ball in Chicago.
Illustration: Getty Images

Lonzo Ball finally seems to have found the right landing spot in Chicago after playing for two organizations in his first four years as a pro. Zo is living up to all four letters of his last name and balling out for a Bulls squad with the best record in the East. LeBron probably wishes he could get Ball back to the Lakers, seeing the way he’s played this year.

Ball’s progression as a player is about more than just how many points he scores or even his assist totals. Lonzo’s tick upward started in New Orleans and has carried over. His offensive improvements were noticeable with the Pelicans, but they weren’t on anyone’s radar in the West, so Lonzo’s steady progress went primarily unnoticed until late last season.

On this Bulls team, though, everything seems to be clicking. Not only are they good, but they’re an exciting bunch to watch. When Ball is on the floor for the Bulls, the offense just flows at a different level. For all the analytics fans out there, look at this: Lonzo’s +/- is the highest for any Bulls player since Derrick Rose in 2012. Plus/minus is one of those stats you either love or hate. But Ball’s +39 is absolutely magnificent for a player that doesn’t necessarily score a ton of points. That indeed points to him impacting the game in other ways.

But where Ball really shines is on the defensive end. And when I say shine, I mean halogen light bright. Ball could become the first point guard to average 1.5 steals and 1 block per game in the history of the NBA. Halfway through the year, he’s averaging 1.9 spg and 0.9 bpg. So, Zo still has a great chance at being the first point guard to accomplish this defensive feat.

The oldest Ball brother has come a long way in his career growth; you rarely hear his dad (LaVar Ball) mentioned anymore when Lonzo is the topic of discussion. His first couple of years with the Lakers were all about LaVar, with less attention being paid to Lonzo as time progressed. Even last year, while Lonzo’s talent was being wasted in New Orleans, he was overshadowed by younger brother LaMelo Ball taking the league by storm and snatching Rookie of the Year honors in Charlotte.

Now it’s Lonzo’s time, and he’s taking full advantage of this opportunity in Chicago. It looks like he may have found his permanent home in the Windy City. He was a forgotten former No. 2 overall pick who was discarded by LeBron and the Lakers but is now seen as one of the best two-way point guards in the game. I see a few NBA All-Defensive selections in Ball’s future.

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