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Expect Lonzo Ball to take the NBA by Storm in 2018

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The 2017 NBA season was quite the year for highly-touted Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. By coming into the season with arguably the most hype outside of LeBron James in 2003, it appeared the weight of the world was on his 190 pound shoulders all year long.

While he had his hiccups, he impressively handled the insurmountable pressure better than anyone could have expected from a 19-year-old (turned 20 in October) young man. With the pressure now slightly removed, and an entire offseason to focus solely on basketball and his body — expect Lonzo to more than live up to the hype next season and beyond.

A quick glance at Lonzo’s statistics does little for the casual NBA fan. With points per game seemingly the De facto stat most thirst for — Lonzo’s 10.2 PPG leave much to be desired. However, when you scroll down the line to the 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1.7 steals, and one block per game — the true basketball enthusiasts see a player with immense potential and superstar, transcendent capabilities.

I have long lauded the play-style of Lonzo — who literally does everything right on the basketball court. His uncanny ability to see the game at a snail’s pace, while playing at NASCAR speed, puts him in LeBron James company.

As for his passing — there was no way Magic Johnson would let a player who reminded him so much of himself to pass without getting his hands on him and seeing if the magic he created with the showtime Lakers could be duplicated by the Chino Hills prodigy.

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The one blip in Lonzo’s season this past year was his shooting. He began the year in as bad of a shooting slump I have seen, and it caused many to speculate just what was going on with the young budding star. In the month of November, he hit his low point when he shot 30.4 percent from the floor overall, and 24.3 percent from the 3-point line.

It was obvious he wasn’t completely comfortable just yet with his shot, but the other parts of his game remained impressive.

Take for instance his play on the defensive side of the ball. For the many so-called experts who lamented Lonzo’s defense coming out of UCLA, he made a very strong case for an All-NBA Defense selection with the numbers illustrated above. However, what’s not in those numbers are how many times Lonzo was able to guard positions one through four, and do so very effectively.

Additionally, his basketball IQ is completely off the charts, which allows him to see plays a play ahead than virtually anyone else on the floor.

This offseason, he and close friend, Darren Moore, who serves as Lonzo’s assistant and trainer — have a plan to rev up the action along with the Lakers training staff. The other hiccup Lonzo had this season was missing 30 games. While I believe some of that time was missed due to precautionary reasons, it’s clear he needs to get stronger to deal with the grind of an 82-game NBA season. According to Lakers GM, Rob Pelinka, they want Lonzo to come back much stronger than he was last year, and make this a huge priority.

I expect Lonzo’s shot to be vastly improved after a summer filled with film study and shooting work. I expect Lonzo to be closer to 200 pounds, if not more, and showcase the strength needed to compete on both ends on a nightly basis. I expect Lonzo’s other numbers to increase and elevate this Lakers team to the playoffs despite whether an offseason superstar is acquired or not.

I expect Lonzo Ball to be a man on a mission in 2018. You should too.

Brandon Williams is the Editor in Chief for Fresh Sports TalkYou can follow him on Twitter @TalkinWithFresh, or “Like” him on Facebook.

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