Let’s talk about Lavar Ball. No, seriously, let’s keep doing it. It’s been one of America’s favorite pastimes over the last few months, and the buzz is starting to die down now that Lonzo is safely the property of the Lakers. Plus, I really don’t want to watch baseball, it’s the slow season for sports. So, let’s talk about the proud father of 3 “one-and-done” studs:
Don’t get me wrong, he has every right to be proud, he gave birth to 3 very good athletes. But one of the things that annoys me the most is when people don’t take offense to some if not most of the belligerent things he shout on national TV. He’s not simply a “good” father looking out for his children. In my opinion, he’s just every other dad who wasn’t able to accomplish his dream, so in turn he forces it on his children. On theoretical steroids. With a Mr. Potato Head face. Sorry, digression starting, let’s get back into it…
Don’t hate the player, hate the game. In this arena, Lavar has got some serious game.
One of my main pet peeves is people saying, “I’m just honest, I don’t really have a filter.” Like, really? Most of the time you’re just being a dick. But he’s pulling it off to perfection. He’s self-centered, obnoxious, and filterless. All of those qualities contribute to fantastically rude interviews that our social-media centric world can’t and won’t stop talking about. It’s brilliant, honestly. I actually applaud the approach he’s taking, (though most of the content I don’t). It’s preying on the minds of America.
Everyone will complain about Lavar, but by simply talking about him you’re giving him what he wants. Whether it’s a sideshow facade or not, it’s well known that any publicity is good publicity. ESPN, FS1, his bravado was spread well before the draft, and he did a great job of it. There’s many different ways of promotion, he hit America in the most effective: be the loudmouth that no one can stop talking about. Producers on every ESPN show were probably drooling when they had the opportunity to bring him back.
Of course, that type of persona isn’t bound to be perfect. Whether it’s being a dick to Kristine Leahy (who even Nick Wright, my #3 most annoying anchor currently, defended and talked to Lavar about) or feeding into whatever some young kids in Philadelphia are tweeting about his son. (Embiid isn’t talented? Really?). That’s where the problem emerges. Having no filter, TRULY having no filter can’t be an admirable trait 24/7. You’re promoting your brand, everyone’s talking about you, but what’s the message you’re sending? One’s marketing strategy can’t be to just have their dad yell at people and spew blasphemy about himself and his sons all the time.
People buy Big Baller shoes as a joke, as high stakes wagers in trivial games like extreme beer pong (I don’t know, it probably exists). Hell, the entire ZO2 design is just an uglier Kobe IX! Athletes use themselves to promote their brand. Lonzo doesn’t need hand holding, let his play do the talking, and leave the marketing to the professionals. Once the hype ends, once Lonzo is a solid starter in the league, the buzz will dwindle. But, wait, what about the other kids?! Well, let’s see (NBA GM’s, hmu):
Lonzo Has Great Court Vision and Quick Athleticism
Honestly, the hype is real with this kid. Sure, De’Aaron Fox dropped like 84 points on his team in the tournament. But I’ll always stick to the belief that one or three bad games doesn’t define a player. To properly evaluate, you look at a prospect’s body of work. Sure, his jumper is funkier than Miles Davis and Charlie Parker in an old garbage can. But what do players who prepare for him say? Well, De’Aaron Fox was asked about him by Cowherd. First thing he said: He hits deep threes. Consistent enough to the point where you have to guard him closely.
But, not too close, obviously. Because that’s not his game. His bread and butter is the dribble penetration, wait, WAT? The same type of offense ran by nearly every team in the NBA? You’re telling me he’d excel in a high pick and roll offense? Well, yes. Yes I am. I’m not one to say that he has zero bust potential, but he’ll be more than fine in LA.
LiAngelo Has a Beautiful Shooting Stroke
Chino Hills’ brand of basketball is disgraceful to the game. Their offense is ran “through” 3/4 court length baseball passes after made baskets, great offensive rebounders to bail out low percentage shots, and little to no ball movement blended into a beautiful mix of contested jumpers. Their defense is a loose press that relies on the two bigs and the off guard contesting shots while the Ball boys look for easy run outs. Seriously, I’ve painfully watched at least 15 game recaps on YouTube, half the plays are tossed down to LiAngelo posting up a defender, leading to either a contested missed shot or a contested made shot. Now, I can’t hate on Gelo’s skill, he has a soft touch (though he shoots a line drive) and makes more low percentage shots than he should. But what’s going to happen at UCLA next year?
Jaylen Hands is a highly touted freshman who will could start at point, though he’s 5’10” 160. The kid is stupid athletic, and from what I’ve seen can dish the rock as well. He’s coming from a more traditional, albeit fast-paced, offense. He’ll do just fine. But for LiAngelo? No more baseball passes. No more leak outs. In my dutiful studying of game film I have yet to see him block a shot. None of the steals he gets come from 1 on 1 wing defense. How will he survive as an averagely athletic shooter with some mid range game? Who knows, I’m just an a**hole judging some kids younger than me.
Time will tell with LaMelo
Chino Hills’ brand of basketball is disgraceful to th…wait, I already said that. Well, Melo seems to thrive in it. That 92 point game sure was something huh? I know, I know, save the sarcasm. 92 points at any level is a remarkable feat. Even if 30-40 were cherry picked. And CHHS was intentionally fouling to give him more possessions. Sorry, there’s the sarcasm again. Anyways, let’s finish up these shitty scouting reports, it’s getting late.
Honestly, I can’t judge a sophomore and say what he will be at the next level. He obviously needs to work on that shooting form (cue the Davis/Parker trash can metaphor). He has nice handles, and looks like he’s a solid penetrator with decent vision. But that vision is often tunneled into his brother in the post 50 feet away. I know the 92 point game buzz has died down, but I just have to say that scoring a lot of points doesn’t mean you’re a great player. I’ve talked about LiAngelo’s shot selection being unreasonable, but this kid’s is horrendous. Chucking up a contested shot from 30, even if you make it 35% of the time, doesn’t make you a great 3 point shooter. If you’re ever bored on YouTube, check out the game winning shot attempt he takes at the end of the state semis against Mater Dei. That’s his selection in a nutshell, the kid just doesn’t care.
Of course, college could easily change that. Getting out of a loose, poorly coached system (I know, I say poorly coached like they weren’t ranked #1 in the nation) into the great program that Steve Alford has could be very beneficial for him, and prove his haters wrong that he can pay basketball the way we want him to play it. But, like I said, it’s too early to tell.
Soooooo what’s your point?
Porter, Jaren Jackson, and Billy Preston are all better forwards in Gelo’s class. If Jaylen Hands gets in the weight room he will be the first option for UCLA next year. Similarly, Cassius Stanley might be the best athlete in the class of ’19. Cole Anthony might be the best PG in the country in that class. That’s the difference between the brothers, there was no other player besides Fultz that could contend talent wise with Lonzo when it came to the NBA. Granted, a lot can happen in 1 or 3 years. But for your father to stake his claim as having the best basketball family ever? I’ll say it again: it’s too early to tell.
I understand he’s the African-American dad in today’s world that is (sadly) a rarity, someone who is there for his family and extremely proud in his boys. But if my son grows up to be the kind of person Lonzo is, soft-spoken and humble, I’m not going to shine a spotlight on him that he doesn’t want. I loved my dad because he made it a point to not be like all the other dads at my baseball games, he just sat quietly. Because it wasn’t his game, in my opinion fathers should be there for support. Not to use their sons as a tool for “Look at me! I made that! Shine the spotlight on my family, I’m the shit because my sons are!”
Lavar is doing some things right. He is a great promoter for his brand (which happens to be his sons). But at the same time this puts his kids under a microscope. What if LiAngelo doesn’t pan out in the NBA? What if he ends up playing football, or doesn’t even want to go to the NBA? Is Lavar the kind of guy to force him there to save his own ass? The way he’s talking, telling everyone that all of his kids are one and done? It really doesn’t seem fatherly.
Now, one could say I have no clue what I’m talking about here. I’ve never been in their home, I’ve never discussed the brothers true passions and ideal futures that they want with them. But do you see the way Lonzo acts on TV around him? That ESPN gauntlet the two did was awkward, it seemed as if Lonzo didn’t even want to be there. He’s not the person his father is. Maybe Lavar is the rambunctious, obnoxious counterpart to his shy, humble nature. But when a 19 yr old kid is getting thrown into the NBA with a target on his back that he didn’t draw? That’s kind of a dick move.
I wouldn’t want to do that to my son. It doesn’t seem like “good parenting”. But I know I need to just “stay in my place”. I’m not one to judge another man on the way he raises his kids. Lavar is. Just ask LeBron.