Heisler: With his family in Lithuania, Lakers’ Lonzo Ball remains in the fast lane

first_img Heisler: Giddy Lakers fans dream of LeBron James, but reality is a long way off Heisler: Lakers get their newest, littlest franchise player Lakers want Lonzo Ball to be more aggressive on offense Big Baller, Ink: Over LaVar’s objections, Lonzo Ball gets tattoos in solidarity with brother LiAngelo Now a story about Lonzo Ball about Lonzo, not his goofy dad or his bizarre shooting stroke.At long last he’s at the forefront of his own adventure with LaVar disappearing over the horizon.Taking the other sons to Lithuania really was perfect, at least for us. LaVar still says dumb things but gets visibility in Prienai, a village of 9,687 far from the bright lights of Vilnius, if not the Northern Lights of the Arctic Circle, with ESPN recalling its correspondent after LaVar blasted its people as “sheisty.”Of course, it was embarrassing for him to announce the Lakers didn’t want to play for Luke Walton as the team hit bottom at 11-27, only to see them go 22-14 since, the high-water mark since the Lakers last fielded a winning team five seasons ago. Lonzo has been surfing the fame that came, not as a result of anything he did, but from his father’s zany act. On a typical day, USA Today’s LonzoWire carried a story in which he denied internet rumors he was seeing Dutch singer Natalie La Rose after being photographed with her at the release party for his rap mix tape, “Born 2 Ball.”So, no, you can’t tell if Lonzo is up to the speed in the work ethic required by greatness, even if the Lakers say he is (hopefully).“We’ve always been very up front and honest with our guys,” Walton said. “All that only comes when you’re performing on the court so the priorities for the players is to win games, to play well, to get better. Otherwise, all that other stuff goes out the window really quickly.”Lonzo’s a Laker. It comes with the turf, just in his case, more so. Watch: Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball engage in practice dunk session AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSo you might have missed LaVarzilla’s dumbest pronouncement of all: vowing Lonzo would leave if they didn’t sign LaMelo (a prospect, if one who’s 16 and weighs 165 pounds) and LiAngelo (not a prospect). Detecting a lack of interest, or fear, on the Lakers’ part, LaVar mused he might “buy my own team and come back and scoop all three of them.”Since the family fortune consists of Lonzo’s $6.8 million salary, it will have to be an inexpensive team.Maybe he can buy one in Lithuania and rename it the Chino Hills Huskies!Lonzo’s fellow UCLA alumnus, Reggie Miller, recently said he hoped the kids were enjoying Lithuania “because those two, in my opinion, have no chance at playing in the NBA. If he (LaVar) continues to open his mouth, all three of those boys are going to be playing overseas.”So with his father out of the picture, who is Lonzo? Lonzo Ball’s shooting woes continue as Lakers fall to Pelicans • First, he’s a rookie so no matter what you hear or read, it’s way too early to regard anything he has or hasn’t done as definitive.• He’s as gifted a playmaker as he was supposed to be.There’s a long list of compliments to choose from around the league. Among the nicest, then-Bucks coach Jason Kidd, who had – correctly – called the comparison to him “a stretch,” then watched Lonzo become the youngest NBA player ever to record a triple-double against his team.“A triple-double is going to be a norm for him and he’s going to fill out the stat sheets,” Kidd said, “but we’ve just got to give him time. We’re trying to put him in a microwave and speed him up.”• If Lonzo is gifted, he’s also an old-fashioned playmaker.Today’s great point guards are what was once called “shooting ones,” adept at spacing the floor and exploiting the opportunities whether they’re shooters like Steph Curry, or drivers like Russell Westbrook, or both like James Harden and Chris Paul, who take turns running the Houston offense.To date, Lonzo isn’t much of a driver or a shooter, one reason he’s so up and down. Greatness depends on being better at at least one of them.• Lonzo is a worse shooter than the Lakers expected.Goofy stroke or no, he shot 55 percent at UCLA and 41 percent from 3-point range. He’s now at 36 percent, 31 percent from 3-point range.• He’s not as bad a shooter as he was when he arrived.After making 26 percent of his 3-point attempts before Dec. 1, he’s at 33 percent since.Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.• In the important one, Lonzo is only beginning to understand how hard he’ll have to work.The Lakers’ current standard for work ethic is Brandon Ingram, with the huge strides taken by Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma showing they’re figuring it out, even if it took Julius four seasons and Kooz surprised all by doing it right away.At midseason the jury was out on Lonzo with some Lakers people concerned that he wasn’t all-in, worried that he was distracted by his fame – and show biz involvement.With rare exceptions, prospects are prospects for good reason. What separates them is dedication. Kobe Bryant might have been the hardest worker the game ever saw, which is how he turned out to be Kobe Bryant.On the other hand, there was D’Angelo Russell, a legitimate No. 2 overall pick but an immature one, as he showed by recording teammate Nick Young talking about women and seeing it somehow posted online.Hoping against hope, the Lakers said Russell was just “young” – at least until trading him.If NBA players are all celebrities and new-found fame is a problem for all, it’s even more the case for the most glamorous, entertainment biz-entangled franchise of all.Tales of the Lakers’ Hollywood nights date back decades with owner Jerry Buss branding them in the image of the local movie stars.It didn’t take success to keep their players on the A list. At the Lakers’ nadir, Jordan Clarkson – good guy, one of their young ones who tracked up dramatically – said he owed it to his family “but second probably the girls and stuff. Females. Know what I mean? I love women.”He meant women you see in movies or on magazine covers. Clarkson was reported to have gone on a “Lamborghini date” with model Hailey Baldwin and one to Magic Mountain with actress Bella Thorne.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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