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Why LaVar’s talk may be all right for Lonzo

by Donte Nystrom

Since last year, we’ve seen the unending carousel of the Ball family spin around like a basketball on Mannie Jackson’s finger. LaVar has so almost ingeniously and single-handedly turned the NBA into a league people want to despise almost as much as the NFL amid protests. LaVar has produced a product and cashed checks that he’s been able to make a profit on with Lonzo.

Mostly.

From creating his own brand, Big Baller Brand, to having his own appearances and hot takes on ESPN, LaVar has captured the sights of the NBA and its fans and captivated the audience in anxiousness of what LaVar will say next. Whether it’s about defending or predicting what happens with Lonzo in L.A. or what he expects Lamelo to achieve at the next level of his career. Love him or hate him, your eyes and ears have his attention. But this may not be so bad after all, no matter your opinion.

Four games into the season, Lonzo is still getting his feet wet in the NBA level. He’s been one assist away from being the youngest player to achieve a triple-double. He’s also been unable to score more than eight points in three of his first four games. He’s only been able to show any shooting prowess against a winless Suns team who has fired their head coach and had one of its players speak out and eventually reach a mutual termination or release of his services to the team.

Lonzo is fourth in the NBA in assists per game, which is the best part of his game anyway. Lonzo isn’t a prolific scorer, he’s a facilitator and able to decipher and create spacing in defense, something we haven’t seen done well for a while. The buzz his father creates only allows for more and more of that to happen as a bigger target gets placed on his back every game. Especially if he starts to pull the entirety of his game together.

So how is this rambling and seemingly useless babble from LaVar so helpful? Let’s first address that it’s not all so ludicrous after all. Lonzo is a good basketball player. He’s got good size, defensive skills and vision which can make a point guard last a long time in the NBA. Being a great scorer comes with time. Lonzo has realized that already. What’s more important is that he wants to be a team leader for now rather than the best player on the team. After he realizes the Lakers aren’t going to be good, he makes them good without shooting well, or the Lakers front office figure out how to put a strong team together again, may lead to him focusing on himself and his shooting in order to be the best player in the NBA.

Secondly, LaVar speaks out and talks the smack for Lonzo. Watching ESPN or reading Bleacher Report, it’s obvious that Lonzo is in the spotlight, but when it comes to annoyance or hatred or argumentative off-the-court matters, it’s all about LaVar. Lonzo, as said by John Wall, “talks with his game,” and believes his father does the actual trash talking for him.

Some may say this is bad parenting and puts a humongous target on his now 20-year-old son’s back. That’s probably true. However, I believe that this gives the publicity his son needs to get acquainted with if he wants to be a star anyway. If he wants to be the greatest point guard to play the game, limelight is something he’s going to have to get used to, especially defending himself or his family.

Take Magic Johnson, for example, the man IS the greatest Laker point guard ever, if not the greatest point guard to ever play the game in general. He’s had to handle the limelight since he came into the league in 1979. Now he’s co-owner of the Dodgers and president of basketball operations for the Lakers.

Maybe Lonzo’s father is right in doing this. Getting the worst of targeting on his back now to get him prepared for the future, if he ends up being the greatest point ever. Maybe this allows LaVar to take the brunt of the trash talk while Lonzo talks with his skills on the court. Maybe this is exactly what Lonzo and the Ball family need.

But is it good for the rest of the Ball sons yet to come?

We’ll have to wait and see.

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