You should have. People, like me have already written songs about him:

Because of how bad the Lakers have been, my only hope as a fan has been to watch the Summer League games the last two years to see if any of the kids had the potential to be great.

Russell made a bunch of clutch 3’s last year and was hyping himself with that ridiculous “ice in my veins” gesture. If the Lakers won, it was all about him, so naturally, if the Lakers lost is was all about the lack of him. I kept hoping he would mature last season and show better effort and discipline on defense and with his passes, but it never came. Of all the young players on the Lakers, I felt that Russell was the one guy who needed to be used a trade asset before other teams figured out that he won’t be a transformational player. He’ll be a good offensive player when he gets on a hot streak from beyond the arc (think Nick Young, but not as funny or creative). But the dumb and lazy plays are tough to eliminate because that requires constant physical and mental effort, an area that is very difficult to develop after a player has hit the big time (when you see this in young kids, you know they have a drive to be great).

Lonzo is the complete opposite. He’s a hoops genius, but his body is still developing. Watching him, it looks like he gives 100% effort when the play counts, then goes into hibernation after his first pass in the half court set, while other players shoot and pass. After a few seconds, he starts to move again and gets involved with the offense, making some smart plays to save a bad possession or get a chance at an offensive rebound. As he gets stronger and improves his stamina, my hope is that he can increase the time he is in that energy mode to become a better half court player.

Also, he is quiet and humble, giving all credit to his teammates and stays focused only on winning. Instead of Russell (poor man’s Kobe, fan lighting rod), Lonzo is a poor man’s Kidd, and the lightning rod is his father. With time and maturity, and his dad focusing on his other sons, the haters may move on to other players as he personally doesn’t give people a reason to hate.

One last note is Ben Simmons. I watched him play in Summer League last year and he is a wonderful passer, but his outside shot was so bad he refused to make the correct play (taking an open shot) just like when Rondo and Rubio were really struggling. I don’t put him at the same level as Lonzo until he shows more.

Lonzo knows that he has to take certain shots because it is necessary to spread the defense and open up passing lanes. Even when he only hits 25% of his threes, he has shown no fear of taking them, and probably spends most of his time working on improving the one shot that will open up the entire game. In the long term, he will become a decent NBA 3-point shooter, just like Kidd did at the end of his career. The only question is the time frame. If Lonzo gets above 33% this year or next, teams won’t be able to guard the lane and the Lakers will look like Warrior mini-me’s.

P.S.: Nice article. I liked the lists as they shine light on shared qualities of players I didn’t watch. I have also been a huge Bell fan after watching the Ducks throughout the PAC-12 and NCAA tournaments. I was hoping the Lakers would pick him, but Kuzma has been a revelation.

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Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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