Lonzo Ball is officially the Chicago Bulls’ new starting point guard.
After inking a four-year, $85 million deal with Chicago, which included a sign-and-trade sending Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple and a second-round pick back to New Orleans, Ball joins Zach LaVine to form one of the most intriguing young backcourts in the NBA.
Chicago’s front office has been infatuated with Ball for a while, almost acquiring him at the trade deadline in a deal centered around Lauri Markkanen. Instead, Chicago pays a significantly cheaper price to potentially add their missing piece for a playoff run. The Bulls have missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, but with Ball, their outlook is a lot rosier for 2021-22 and beyond.
Ball’s strengths are exactly what Chicago has missed in their rotation — elite playmaking, versatile defense and adequate floor-spacing. Last season, Ball averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals while carrying a career-best 55.1 True Shooting percentage. Alongside LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, Ball won’t have immense pressure to carry Chicago’s primary creation. The Bulls’ dynamic inside-out duo that's already in place has displayed competent ability to the run offense through one another. Adding Ball is the key catalyst to vault Chicago’s efficiency to another level.
Chicago is set up to become a run-and-gun team in transition, where Lonzo thrives. Just imagine Ball pushing the pace while it’s a race to the rim between LaVine and 2020 No. 4 overall pick Patrick Williams. Not only do those possessions result in easy buckets, but Ball has an uncanny ability to whizz the ball into tight windows from multiple angles. He’s a quarterback in the open floor, which is such an underrated weapon in today’s game.
Another reason why Chicago felt comfortable paying Ball $21.25 million annually over the next four years is his perimeter-shooting potential. This past season with the Pelicans, Ball converted 40.2% of his catch-and-shoot threes on 5.9 attempts per game. He has made big strides since his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, when Ball was a below-average 32.5% on catch-and-shoot opportunities. By improving his shot mechanics and overall percentages each season he's been in the Association, Ball is proving he can be a consistent plus-40% three-point shooter moving forward. With ample drive-and-kick opportunities on the way from LaVine, Coby White, and newly signed backup guard Alex Caruso, Ball will work his magic as a spot-up weapon.
Not even 24 years old yet, Ball’s upside as a secondary piece within an efficient offense speaks for itself. Throw in the unique playmaking ability and Ball becomes a multi-faceted weapon who is just now scratching the surface of what he could become as a primary or secondary engine.