Lonzo Ball is one of the most hyped rookies in NBA history. He went No.2 in the 2017 NBA Draft, behind Markelle Fultz, and was supposed to be the next franchise point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. That didn't happen, as he only lasted 2 seasons in Los Angeles and was traded as part of the Lakers package for superstar Anthony Davis.
That move was the right one for the Lakers as they won the NBA title, and also for Lonzo as he got out of the spotlight that his overzealous father put him in. In terms of scoring, Lonzo is having his best season averaging 13.8 PPG for the Pelicans. His free throw shooting has also taken a massive leap, from 56.6% to 79.2% this season. Lonzo's improvement as a player is also shown by his strong defense, but that will not be enough to keep him in New Orleans.
The Pelicans shopped Lonzo earlier this year, and the point guard is most likely playing his last months with the team. Lonzo is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning he could sign a deal with any team he chooses if the Pelicans don't match. Most likely, the Pelicans will carry out a sign and trade deal to not lose Ball for nothing as that is the common trend in the NBA right now.
Since Lonzo has a ton of potential as a two-way point guard, here are the top five destinations for him this offseason.
5. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers made big moves by signing Malcolm Brogdon to a long-term deal and also trading away their star player in Victor Oladipo. Indiana need to build around Domantas Sabonis, who is a bonafide All-Star averaging 19.9 PPG and 11.6 RPG. But what Indiana needs is a point guard who can dish him the ball.
Brogdon is a decent playmaker averaging 6.0 APG, but he is mainly a scorer and shooter. Grabbing a guard like Lonzo would allow the Pacers to push the pace and allow Brogdon and newly acquired Caris LeVert to spot up for shots, or feed Sabonis inside. In the case of a sign and trade, TJ McConnell and Doug McDermott would probably be included in the trade. They would add defense and shooting to the Pelicans who can move Bledsoe to point guard full-time.
4. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls were desperate to nab Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans before the trade deadline, because they knew a trio of Ball, LaVine, and Vucevic would be a tough one to play against. But the trade never materialized, and they have a chance to pull off a deal this offseason. After all, the Pelicans have made Ball immediately available.
Coby White has potential as a shooter and scorer, but he probably won't be the playmaker or defender that Lonzo is. Gafford is also looking like a starting NBA center, but they have Vucevic taking up the majority of the minutes and that will slow down Gafford's growth. The Pelicans could use Chicago's duo to boost their depth and moving Lonzo could be key in the case of a sign and trade.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas have a great thing going with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on the team. But there is too much pressure on Doncic to score, distribute, and run the offense. That is too much pressure on the shoulders of a 22-year old, and leading the Mavericks to the playoffs is more than enough for him at this stage. Adding a natural playmaker and defender in Lonzo Ball greatly helps Dallas.
The Mavericks are clinging to a playoff seeding right now, and their trajectory doesn't seem to that high next season as things stand. Jalen Brunson, who is having a career year averaging 12.8 PPG and 3.5 APG, is a solid point guard for Dallas this season but they must acquire Lonzo as he is a larger point guard with much better athleticism.
2. New York Knicks
The Knicks have done a fantastic job by competing in a playoff seeding thanks to the play of All-Star Julius Randle and the coaching of Tom Thibodeau. They even have guards like Derrick Rose and Emmanuel Quickley scoring the ball, while big man Mitchell Robinson has the ability to be an impact player in the paint. Adding Lonzo Ball takes them to a much better place in the East.
Lonzo is averaging 13.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 5.7 APG for the Pelicans. His all-around play is what New York needs because defenders with size and athleticism is what head coach Tom Thibodeau loves. Lonzo throwing lobs to Randle and Robinson would make the Knicks an even better team and much more attractive to watch for fans.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are a championship contender, and there is no question about that. The Clippers hold the 3rd seed in the Western Conference, and the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is one of the best pairings in the NBA. For the Clippers, all they are missing is a natural point guard and playmaker.
Kawhi Leonard made it clear last season that he would like a playmaker because neither he nor George like to provide assists. Lonzo Ball adds another lockdown defender to pair with Leonard and George, and a player who will sacrifice his own offense to push the pace and get his team good looks. The Clippers have everything in place for a championship run, but a playmaker at the point guard position is top priority.