NBA player comparisons for rookies that are entering the league is nothing new. NBA draft analysts have been doing this for years, and despite how silly it can look at times, the strategy behind it makes a lot of sense. It’s a lot easier to wrap your head around a players skill set if you can compare that skill set to a player you’re already familiar with, and, for the most part, everyone understands that comparisons and predictions are two entirely different things.
For example, a popular NBA comparison for Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball heading into the 2017 NBA draft was a young Jason Kidd. In theory, it makes some sense. They are both big point guards with excellent court vision and a questionable jumper, among other similarities, but simply comparing the two in the interest of easily-digestible draft analysis is pretty harmless. Silly, maybe, but harmless.
Unfortunately for Lonzo, his 2017 NBA season is off to a rocky start. While Ball’s rebounding and assist numbers are solid, his sub-30% shooting puts him in a club among the NBA’s worst shooters. It’s not the kind of club he wants to be in.
Ball addressed his shooting woes after Wednesday nights loss to the Boston Celtics, saying “it’s in my head, to be honest. I know I can shoot the ball.” Ball may be right, but until he proves it on an NBA court, nobody is going to believe him.
Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd was on ESPN’s First Take Thursday morning, and considering Lonzo’s early season struggles, it was the perfect time for the First Take crew to pull a nice soundbite out of Kidd. They accomplished that mission, if nothing else.
“I agree. I agree with you. It’s still early in his career, and it’s a stretch. He has to understand what it means to play hard, and what it means to win, and how to win at the highest level. It takes time, and hopefully, in three years there is a better comparison, but right now, it is a stretch, and he has a way to go.”
Kidd’s comments here are interesting when you consider what Kidd has said about Ball in the past. Kidd sat down for an extensive interview with the OnPar podcast back in September, and Kidd said “Lonzo Ball has gotten a lot of comparison (to me). I think, watching him in Vegas, I thought he understands the floor. He understands the situation. He finds the open guy. Only time can tell… he might be better than I am.”
In an interview with the L.A. Times in July, Kidd said “there’s always comparisons of the great players in this league. Of Magic (Johnson), Michael (Jordan), Larry (Bird), there’s always guys who come before for these young players to be compared to. It’s a great compliment. We’ll see.”
What changed Jason Kidd’s mind? A few months ago, Kidd thought comparing him to Ball was a compliment. Now, it’s a stretch. We’re probably not going to get an answer here, but it’s an interesting development.