It was only one preseason game, but what a game it was, as the new-look Bulls had a very Lakers “Showtime” feel, and Ball was a big reason why.
Lonzo Ball’s passing repertoire runs deep.
The alley-oop, the no-look, the skip pass to an open teammate deep in the corner, pocket pass, the jump-pass … the point guard has it all. And really has since back in days as a standout at Chino Hills High School in California.
So when Ball talks about putting “a show on for [the fans] every time,” like he mentioned after Tuesday night’s blowout win over Cleveland in the preseason opener for the Bulls, it’s OK to start thinking, “Would ‘Showtime’ really play in the Midwest?”
If what Ball and his teammates did to the Cavaliers is any indication? That’s a big hell yes.
Bulls basketball has not only been a bad product since the 2017 rebuild attempt, but it’s been an energy drain, far too often painful to watch.
A sin for any team with a two-time Slam Dunk Champion like Zach LaVine on it.
And while LaVine was capable of getting 40 points on any given night, it was 40 points he mostly had to earn on his own. Impressive, but not always effortless.
It was just one preseason game, but LaVine looked effortless on his way to 25 points in 24 minutes, and Ball was a big reason why.
“I think it’s huge,” Donovan said of Ball’s presence in the backcourt alongside LaVine. “I also think it’s something Zach is getting comfortable with because I think Zach has been so used to having the ball in his hands and generating sometimes a lot of shots for himself. But now he’s in a position where shots are being generated for him.”
Better believe it’s contagious.
Ball had five assists and Alex Caruso had 10.
The common denominator? They both have a Lakers background where the fabled “Showtime” style of basketball was born and raised.
They both also seem determined to prove that “Showtime” travels. Palm trees and movie stars replaced by snow drifts and parkas.
“When you’ve got a point guard of that magnitude with that IQ that’s as unselfish as [Ball] is, he makes the game easier and it makes it fun … and it becomes contagious,” veteran DeMar DeRozan said. “You saw the way we moved the ball. It’s been like that all through training camp, and we expect it to keep getting better.
“What’s even better about it is [Ball] has the greatest, most humbling demeanor toward him too.”
That explains why he was so laid back after the lesson in basketball he and the Bulls taught the Cavs.
“Just from the first two weeks that we’ve been together, I’ve kind of seen this coming,” Ball said of what was displayed. “I just know that we have a lot of talent. There’s only one basketball out there and we understand that and it’s all about getting the best shot. I think everybody gets that one through 15.”
So what does that mean big picture for this current Bulls roster?
Well, for Coby White it means when he is healthy enough to return he can put his starting dreams in a backpack and tuck them away nicely, because the front office has now seen the difference between being born to play point guard and being taught to play point guard.
For LaVine it means a chance to continue scoring at a high clip, but doing so with less effort with a guy like Ball to facilitate and put LaVine into better scoring positions. Less energy used on offense, more saved for defense. A win-win.
“We’re playing free basketball right now, getting up and down the floor,” LaVine said. “But for me to play off the ball, get cuts, get easy shots, get easy spot-ups, it’s something I haven’t had for awhile.
“I’m excited for that.”
LaVine’s not alone.