An individual player’s talent and performance on the court is one thing, but being able to work together with other stars is a whole different topic. This is something that Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball has been faced with, as the arrival of Isaiah Thomas has put him in a place where he is forced to play with someone who was in the MVP conversation just a season ago. But how are two point guards on the same team supposed to coexist with each other?
Before the arrival of Isaiah Thomas, Lonzo Ball had seen plenty of ups and downs in his first NBA season with the Lakers. He started off quite inconsistent, and many overreacted when thinking if he was the right choice for the future of the franchise.
Others realized that it had only been a few games for the rookie and that there is a learning curve, and as a result, gave him a chance. For the most part, the people in this category were right.
Sadly for Ball, however, he caught the injury bug and was sidelined for over a month. It was bad timing, but better safe than sorry for the oldest Ball brother.
He returned after the All-Star break, and has played four games since. While three of these games were around his average performance, Ball came alive against the Spurs on Saturday with 18 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, two blocks and a career-high six 3-pointers. He padded the stat sheet in a big way, and one can only hope this is a sign of things to come for the youngster.
Ball’s performance was highly impressive, but what made it more impressive was that he was able to be successful next to Isaiah Thomas’ great play.
In the same game against the Spurs, Thomas notched 21 points and seven assists in 29 minutes. He played a solid amount of minutes next to Ball, and this game was evidence that their coexisting success is possible.
It’s been a hot topic since returning from injury, but it’s unbelievable that Thomas has already been on two different teams this season after such a phenomenal season with the Celtics. Slightly ironic, the Celtics’ rivals received Thomas for two young players, and many felt he was disrespected in the trade.
He has the ability to play at an elite level, but just has not been able to do so consistently this year. Being the likable guy that he is and someone who is able to prove a point to the league, it is no secret that Thomas wants to find a home to play in. In addition, he isn’t in his early years. The 29-year-old has no time to be on two teams per season.
Thomas’ primary position has been at point guard, so the Lakers bringing him in with a supposed franchise-piece in Ball was an interesting move. However, the speculations about moving him before next season and basically all other possible rumors have been circulating since the point of the trade.
There is truly no knowing what jersey Isaiah Thomas will be wearing next season, but right now, he only has one thing to worry about: his play next to Lonzo Ball.
Is it a fluke?
Now of course, we are looking at a single game where both Ball and Thomas managed to play well. While we do know it is a feasible thing to occur, it must be taken into consideration if it is a sign of things to come, or rather just something that happens once or twice a month. Statistically speaking, it is virtually impossible to predict this, as the two players have played a total of four games together so far.
As the season goes on, the sample size will be much larger, and it will be easier to determine how these two play together. Will they take turns going off and performing well while the other takes a backseat, or will we see solid and consistent play from them both on most nights?
It’s hard to envision both players having lines as they did against the Spurs on most nights. Yes, they did it against a defensively-focused team, which is quite impressive. But consistency from a young player and someone who just got traded is truthfully a lot to expect.
The most likely scenario is that fans will see big nights like this from both guys on occasion, but expecting one of them to perform at lower standards than the other should not be out of the ordinary. Of course, there are a lot of other things to depend on, but all in all, one should expect one of these guys to take a slight front seat in each given game, forcing Luke Walton to ride the hot hand.
Featured image from ClutchPoints
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