LAS VEGAS — Lonzo Ball was named Most Valuable Player of the Las Vegas NBA summer league before he sat out Monday’s championship game due to a calf injury.
The Lakers‘ second overall pick took home the honor after averaging 16.3 points, a summer league-leading 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
That Ball Boy is your 2017 Las Vegas Summer League MVP pic.twitter.com/xPCLQWSHTI
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 18, 2017
The Lakers kept their prized rookie on the sideline against Portland after Ball suffered a mild calf strain in his right leg in the third quarter of Sunday’s semifinal win over Dallas. In Ball’s absence, rookie forward Kyle Kuzma finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds and won the final game’s MVP honors in leading the Lakers to the championship.
Ball had already shown summer league voters plenty. Joining Ball on the summer league first team were Atlanta’s John Collins, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson, Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr. and Portland’s Caleb Swanigan.
The Lakers played it safe with Ball on Monday after seeing the rookie shine in the Las Vegas summer league. For precautionary reasons, they shut down last year’s second overall pick, Brandon Ingram, after the swingman suffered a cramp at the end of regulation in the Lakers’ opening game.
There was no point in risking further injury to Ball, who had two triple-doubles and four games with 10 assists or more. No other rookie in Las Vegas summer league history has had more than one game with 10 assists, and no other rookie has ever had a triple-double, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Ball created a stir during summer league with his choice of shoes for each game. He wore his Big Baller Brand shoes in the first two games before playing in Kobe Bryant Nikes, James Harden Adidas, Steph Curry Under Armours and a pair of Air Jordan XXXIs on Sunday.
But what really had several executives and coaches around the league buzzing were Ball’s “elite” passing, vision and point guard play.
One area in which Ball struggled was perimeter shooting. He shot just 10-of-42 from 3-point range, though he hit his first two 3s and was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc before getting hurt Sunday.
LaVar Ball said in a radio interview on Monday on Mornings with Keyshawn, Jorge and LZ on ESPN LA 710 that his son doesn’t need to tinker with his shooting form.
“Oh, ain’t nobody tinkering with his shot. He’s going to shoot the same way, comfortable, like I said, who cares about his shot,” LaVar said.
“Here’s the thing: He missed a lot of shots in the first few games. They act like the percentage is going to stay there. He’ll go about four or five games where he’ll go 4-for-5, 6-for-8. It will catch up with him. So it’s not a big deal. And it’ll come out to a percentage where he’s always been: in the high 40s.”
Ball’s best scoring game of the summer league was a 36-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound performance against the Sixers. But more than anything else, Ball turned heads with his passing. Several of his assists came on full-court or three-quarter-court passes that led to easy transition dunks or layups.
“We are in a league right now that is kind of dominated by scoring point guards,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said before Ball suffered the calf injury. “And there’s some great ones — don’t get me wrong. But to kind of have this young kid come along, 19 years old, he is really changing the way point guards play with pass-first, getting your teammates going first. It is amazing to watch. We feel like the way he’s playing can really transform our whole team.”