Lonzo Ball is a really good point guard. He was excellent for UCLA this past season and had one of the better individual seasons for the Bruins since Kevin Love or Russell Westbrook.
Coming into 2016, Ball was ranked ahead of fellow point guard De’Aaron Fox according to ESPN, 247, and Rivals. Fox wasn’t far behind Ball, but the consensus was that Lonzo was the superior player.
As luck would have it, they went head to head. Twice.
The first time the Kentucky Wildcats took on the UCLA Bruins was in Rupp Arena. Both point guards were still figuring out the college game but they were still two of the more high profile players in the country.
The ‘Cats lost the game 97-92, but Fox won the battle with Ball. He ended the game with 20 points, nine assists, and only two turnovers. Lonzo played well, but his numbers weren't as good with 14 points, seven assists, and six turnovers. It wasn't Ball that beat UK, it was TJ Leaf and Thomas Welsh that ultimately downed the ‘Cats.
Fast forward to March. Kentucky was a two seed in the South Regional and UCLA was a three seed. The two teams were on a collision course to the Sweet 16. Both teams advanced to the second weekend of March Madness, and once again Fox vs. Ball took center stage, but this time there was a little more on the line.
By this time, the Lonzo Ball hype train, driven primarily by his father LaVar, was in full force. He was again being called the best point guard in the game at the time and the type of player that should be considered as the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft.
To add fuel to the fire, LaVar Ball did what he does best, he opened his yap and wrote a check his son was going to have to cash.
When asked about De’Aaron Fox, LaVar said the following: “He can’t mess with ‘Zo... I don’t know if he would be in the top five of the draft.”
Fox heard the comments, and he took Lonzo Ball to the woodshed in Memphis. Fox blazed his way to 39 points and making his opponent look like a clown on defense. Fox shot 13-20 as Lonzo tried his best to defend him. Fox was faster, he was more athletic, and he was able to get to the basket anytime he wanted. In contrast, Ball looked slow and unable to create his own shot against Fox. Ball finished the game with 10 points and a smack to the ego.
LA fans seem more than OK with this, at least according to this tweet by Aaron Torres:
I love De'Aaron Fox. But there is zero percent the Lakers draft him over Lonzo. I live in LA. This city would burn to the ground— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) May 17, 2017
Why would Laker fans burn their city to the ground because their team drafted a better player?
This isn’t a hypothetical situation. We have evidence. We have numbers. We have video for crying out loud.
Fox is better... done... end of story.... period. Fox is faster, he’s a better shooter, he has just as good instincts for the game, and he’s a better scorer.
But here is what Fox doesn’t have: LaVar Ball running his mouth.
I’m of the opinion that the Lonzo Ball hype is driven as much by his dad than it is by his play. The elder Ball has a platform whenever he wants to use it, whether it be on the radio, on TV, or in print, and he uses it to continue to press the notion that his son is better than De’Aaron Fox even when people should know it’s not true.
If LA does indeed decide to pull the trigger on Ball, then good luck to the Lakers because they are going to get LaVar and all of his drama along with Lonzo.
With De’Aaron Fox, they would get a better player without the baggage.