He was a local product, having grown up in Chino Hills about half an hour away from downtown Los Angeles, and he had done well in his lone season of college basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In his first two seasons, Ball showed some promise, but he was never able to put it together, and in the summer of 2019 he was shipped off to the New Orleans Pelicans in the trade that brought the Lakers Anthony Davis.
While fans were excited about Davis’ arrival, they were sad to see Ball go, and many still have a soft spot for him, as they still wish he were a Laker.
The guard has improved his game since leaving L.A., but he hasn’t played since tearing the meniscus in his left knee in January 2022, and now his current team, the Chicago Bulls, feels his NBA career is over.
If Lakers fans have felt letting go of Ball was a mistake, there is increasing proof that the team made the right decision with him.
Ball simply couldn’t live up to the hype
When Ball entered the NBA, he was one of the most massively hyped players the league had ever seen, and most of the hype came from his father, LaVar Ball.
Many fell for the hype, including then-Lakers executive Magic Johnson, who reportedly made the decision to draft him, not to mention many fans.
Those fans continued to believe that the younger Ball was bound for multiple All-Star appearances even long after he had left the Lakers.
But the 6-foot-6 guard never averaged more than 14.6 points or 7.2 assists per game, and anyone would be hard-pressed to make even one All-Star game with numbers like that.
Then there is the matter of his health.
When healthy, the younger Ball has been not quite a star, but a very good player who is a positive element on the court thanks to his stellar defense, ability to speed up the pace and spot open teammates in the open floor. But he has simply had too many injuries.
There was a sprained shoulder, an MCL sprain and a knee contusion that limited him to 52 games as a rookie. The following year, a sprained ankle in January that looked like perhaps a four-to-six-week injury at worst ended up costing him the balance of the season.
He greatly improved his 3-point shooting after being traded to New Orleans, but his latest ailment has seemed at least a touch mysterious while casting serious doubt on his future in the league.
The Lakers haven’t done a great job of managing assets at times over the last six years, but this was one time when they got it right. It looks like with the younger Ball, they sold high while also ridding themselves of the headache that came with having his father in tow.
Source: Yahoo Sports