Lonzo Anderson Ball (born October 27, 1997) is an American professional basketball player for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for one season with the UCLA Bruins, earning consensus first-team All-American honors before the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the second overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2018.
As a high school senior at Chino Hills High School in 2016, Ball was awarded multiple national high school player of the year honors, and led his team, alongside his brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo, who are both current NBA guards, to an undefeated record, as well as a national championship. As a college freshman in 2016–17, he led the nation in assists and broke the UCLA record for the most assists in a season. Ball also won the Wayman Tisdale Award as the top freshman in the nation. As an NBA rookie with the Lakers, his playing time was limited by shoulder and knee injuries, and he was sidelined for much of his second season after an ankle injury. He was traded at the end of the season to the Pelicans in a trade package for Anthony Davis.
Ball was born in the Los Angeles metropolitan area in Anaheim, California, to LaVar and Tina Ball, who were both former college basketball players. The 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) LaVar played at Washington State before transferring to Cal State Los Angeles, where the 6-foot-1-inch (1.85 m) Tina was also playing. A two-sport athlete, LaVar also played American football professionally for the London Monarchs in the World League of American Football.
Ball started playing basketball at the age of two. He idolized LeBron James, who he began following around age six and when James was a first-year NBA player with Cleveland. Ball grew up with his younger brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo. Until they reached high school, the trio played together on teams coached by their father. Ball played basketball at Chino Hills High School in Chino Hills, California. As a junior in 2014–15, he averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals. In his senior year, he led the school to a 35–0 record and a state title, and the Huskies were ranked the consensus No. 1 team in the nation. His younger brothers, junior LiAngelo and freshman LaMelo, were also on the team, as well as his cousin Andre. Ball averaged a triple-double with averages of 23.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 11.7 assists per game. He received national honors including the Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, USA Today Boys Basketball Player of the Year, and Mr. Basketball USA.
Ball was rated as a consensus five-star recruit by major scouting services. He was ranked No.4 overall recruit and No.1 point guard in the 2016 high school class. In November 2015, he signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and play for the Bruins. As a freshman in 2016–17, he was one of 50 players named to the preseason watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the top college player in the nation. Ball's vision and passing skills led UCLA's rise up the national rankings, as he and fellow freshman T. J. Leaf helped the Bruins bounce back from a 15–17 record from the year before. Ball led the nation in assists and transformed the Bruins into the top scoring offense in the country. In his first collegiate game against Pacific, he had 19 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds. Later in the year, Ball was named the MVP of the Wooden Legacy tournament, after he led UCLA to a win over Texas A&M in the championship game. He remained on the Wooden Award list in midseason, when he was also joined by Leaf, as UCLA was one of just five schools with two candidates on the list.
In a 107–66 blowout win against the Washington Huskies, Ball had 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists. With close to two dozen NBA executives in attendance, the game matched Ball against the Huskies' Markelle Fultz, who were among the nation's top point guards and projected to be among the top picks in the 2017 NBA draft. Fultz scored 25 points in an even matchup between the two freshmen. In the Bruins' regular season finale, Ball had a career-high 14 assists in a 77–68 win over Washington State, when he also broke Gary Payton's 30-year-old Pac-12 season record for assists by a freshman. UCLA was seeded No. 3 in the NCAA Tournament, and won their opening game 97–80 over Kent State. Ball had 15 points and three assists to surpass Larry Drew II's school record for most assists in a season. In the second round, he flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists in a 79–67 win over Cincinnati. All of his assists came in the second half, when UCLA overcame a three-point halftime deficit after scoring a season-low 30 points in the first half. The Bruins were eliminated in the Sweet 16, losing 86–75 to Kentucky. Ball had 10 points, eight assists, and four turnovers in the loss, while Wildcats point guard De'Aaron Fox scored 39 points for an NCAA tournament freshman record. Ball strained his hamstring in the game and was limping in the second half, but did not offer it as an excuse for being outplayed. After the game, he announced that he would declare for the 2017 NBA draft, where he was generally projected to be a top-3 pick.
For the season, Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.0 rebounds. He was the only player in the nation to average at least 14 points, six assists, and six rebounds, and was the first player in the conference since California's Jason Kidd in 1993–94 to average at least 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. His 274 assists also passed Kidd (272) for the second-most in a season by a Pac-12 player, behind only Ahlon Lewis (294) of Arizona State in 1997–98. Ball made 55.1 percent of his field goal attempts and 41.2 of his three-point attempts to become the first NCAA Division I player since 1992–93 to make at least 70 percent from 2-point range and 40 percent from 3-point range. He was a unanimous first-team All-American, earning honors from the Associated Press, United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), and Sporting News. Additionally, he was awarded the Wayman Tisdale Award by the USBWA as the top freshman in the nation. Ball was the only freshman to be a finalist for the Wooden Award, Naismith College Player of the Year, and Oscar Robertson Trophy. He was also voted Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and was named first-team All-Pac-12 along with teammates Leaf and Bryce Alford. He also received honorable mention for the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team.
Los Angeles Lakers (2017–2019)
Rookie season (2017–18)
Ball was selected with the second overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. It was the third straight year they had the No. 2 pick. He and Brandon Ingram, their second overall pick from the previous year, headlined a young core for the Lakers. D'Angelo Russell, their No. 2 pick in 2015, was traded days earlier, partly to clear the way for their newly drafted point guard. Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson billed Ball as "the new face of the Lakers." During the 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Ball was named the league MVP after averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. He had two triple-doubles, the first in Vegas since 2008 and the first ever in Vegas by a rookie. He had four games with 10 or more assists, becoming the first in league history to have more than 10 assists in more than one game; his 9.3 assist average was also a league record.
As a rookie in 2017–18, Ball played in 52 games, missing 30 games due to shoulder and knee injuries. In the second game of the season on October 20, 2017, he scored a career-high 29 points, to go along with 11 rebounds and nine assists in a 132–130 win against the Phoenix Suns, falling one assist shy of becoming the youngest player to notch a triple double in NBA history. In the following game, he had eight points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in a 119–112 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, becoming the youngest player in franchise history to get at least 10 assists in a game. On November 11, he recorded 19 points, 13 assists, and 12 rebounds in a 98–90 loss against the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the youngest player at the time to achieve a triple-double at the age of 20 years and 15 days old, breaking James' record by five days. Leading up to the game, Bucks' coach Jason Kidd, who Ball is often compared to, had called it "a stretch" to compare the two since it was too early in Ball's career. Ball, who had been struggling with his shooting, made over 50% of his field goals in a game for the first time in his career. On November 19, he recorded his second triple-double with 11 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists in a 127–109 win over the Denver Nuggets. It was the most rebounds by an NBA rookie guard since Steve Francis had 17 in 1999–2000. He also joined fellow NBA rookie Ben Simmons, as well as Magic Johnson, Connie Hawkins, Art Williams, and Oscar Robertson as the only players to record multiple triple-doubles within the first 20 games of their NBA careers.
Ball missed the team's Christmas game after spraining his left shoulder in the previous game against the Portland Trail Blazers. His shooting had improved to 34.9 percent from the field and 29.7 percent on three-pointers after having made 44 percent of his field goals and 44.2 percent of his three-pointers in the seven games prior to the injury. He returned after missing six games, playing in five games before spraining the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee against the Dallas Mavericks on January 13, 2018. Originally, he was expected to be sidelined for one to three weeks. Ball was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend, but withdrew because of the injury. He returned after the All-Star break after missing 15 games. On February 23, he played 17 minutes and had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 124–102 victory against the Mavericks. It was the first game he played all season that he did not start. He was also on a minutes restriction, and the Lakers held him out of their following game to limit his back-to-back games during his return. Ball missed the final eight games of the season due to a knee contusion. He ended the season with averages of 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds, but made only 36 percent of his field goals. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, while fellow rookie teammate Kyle Kuzma exceeded expectations and earned first-team honors.
On July 17, 2018, Ball underwent an arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus. The surgery limited him from working on his game; however, he increased his strength, particularly in his upper body, amidst the Lakers front office challenge for him to improve his durability. Ball set a goal to play all 82 games as a sophomore in 2018–19. During the offseason, the Lakers signed the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James, which shifted the spotlight away from Ball. They also signed veteran point guard Rajon Rondo to mentor and compete with the youngster. A week before camp, Lakers coach Luke Walton stated that Ball would be eased back and not participate in full-contact practices initially.
Ball's added bulk made him better on defense, and he became one of the Lakers' most dynamic defenders during the season as he picked up point guards full-court to create turnovers in the backcourt. On offense, he had to adjust to playing off the ball more with James often handling the ball. On December 15, in a 128–100 win against the Charlotte Hornets, the duo became the first teammates to achieve a triple-double in the same game since Jason Kidd and Vince Carter did it in 2007, with Ball posting 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, while James had 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. The last Lakers' teammates to accomplish the feat were Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1982. It was Ball's third triple-double of his career and his first in over a year. On January 19, 2019, he had a career-high seven assists in a quarter to help the Lakers build a 13-point lead over Houston after the first period. In the third quarter, he collided with the Rockets' James Ennis III and suffered a Grade 3 left ankle sprain, which included a torn ligament. Ball left the game with 11 assists in 22 minutes and the team up by 18 points, but the Lakers lost the game in overtime 138–134. He had suffered two other ankle injuries earlier in the season, but had been able to play in all of the team's first 47 games. Ball had been playing some of the best basketball of his career at that point. Since Walton called him out for being passive after a 108–86 loss against Minnesota, he had been averaging 13 points, 6.4 rebounds and 8.4 assists with nearly two steals over seven games before the injury. Ball was selected again for the Rising Stars game, but he was ruled out again because of his ankle injury. In late February, he traveled to Ohio to potentially undergo surgery that had not been authorized by the Lakers, before the team informed him that his contract could be voided if he proceeded, and successfully talked him out of it. Originally expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, he was shut down for the rest of the season in March.
New Orleans Pelicans (2019–present)
On July 6, 2019, the Lakers traded Ball, Ingram, Josh Hart, the draft rights to De'Andre Hunter, two first-round picks, a first-round pick swap and cash to New Orleans for All-Star Anthony Davis. Ball debuted for the Pelicans on October 22, registering eight points, five rebounds and five assists in a 130–122 overtime loss to the defending champion Toronto Raptors. On December 29, he hit a career-high seven three-pointers, and scored a season-high 27 points, to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists in a 127–112 win over the Houston Rockets. On January 18, 2020, Ball recorded his first triple-double of the season with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a 133–130 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. On March 3, he matched his career-high seven three-pointers, while recording 26 points and eight assists in a 139–134 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also made seven three-pointers the following day, finishing with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in a 127–123 overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
On January 29, 2021, Ball matched his career-high seven three-pointers, and scored a season-high 27 points, in a 131–126 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Ball used to have an unorthodox jump shot whereby he moves the ball from his left hip to the left of his forehead. He rotates his right elbow in toward his chest until it reaches a 45-degree angle, when he shoots the ball towards the basket. He prefers to shoot jumpers while moving towards his left. During the off-season of the 2019–20 NBA season, videos of Ball's new shooting form emerged. He is now shooting into a more conventional form with the ball squared up to his forehead.
Ball began shooting in games from 40 feet (12 m) deep since he was a pre-teen. In college, he shot three-pointers from beyond the NBA line, which is 4 feet (1.2 m) longer than the 19-foot-9-inch (6.02 m) college line. His go-to shot with time expiring was a step-back 3-pointer from deep.
Awards and honors
- Associated Press first-team All-American (2017)
- USBWA first-team All-American (2017)
- NABC first-team All-American (2017)
- Sporting News first-team All-American (2017)
- First-team All-Pac-12 (2017)
- Wayman Tisdale Award (2017)
- Pac-12 Freshman of the Year (2017)
- Pac-12 All-Freshman team (2017)
- Honorable mention Pac-12 All-Defensive Team
- High school
- Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2016)
- Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year (2016)
- USA Today Player of the Year (2016)
- Mr. Basketball USA (2016)
- McDonald's All-American (2016)
- Ballislife All-American (2016)
- Ballislife All-American Game MVP (2016)
- California Mr. Basketball (2016)
- Los Angeles Times Player of the Year (2016)
Ball began his pro career using sports apparel from his father LaVar's Big Baller Brand instead of signing with any of the major apparel companies. His father had insisted that he not sign with a company unless they agreed to license merchandise from Big Baller Brand. In May 2017, Big Baller Brand announced the release of Ball's first shoe, the ZO2. The $495 price tag on the shoe sparked wide criticism from celebrities and on social media. In response to his critics, LaVar tweeted on May 4, "If you can't afford the ZO2S, you're NOT a BIG BALLER!" It was later revealed that despite not being a founder of the company, Lonzo owned 51% of the Big Baller Brand, while his father owned 16.4% of the business and both his mother and Alan Foster owned 16.3% of the business. On April 6, 2018, Jordan Crawford became the first player besides Ball to wear the ZO2s during a game.
On December 20, 2017, Ball was announced as the logo for the Junior Basketball Association (JBA), a league his father LaVar planned to establish for high-school basketball players who have finished high school but want an alternative option to the NCAA.
In March 2019, Ball told ESPN.com that he had cut his ties with BBB's manager and co-founder Alan Foster, accusing him of "[using] his access to my business and personal finances to enrich himself". In particular, he stated that $1.5 million of his personal money had gone missing. In addition, the Lakers showed concerns for the quality of BBB's shoes – believing it was a potential factor in his ankle injuries. Shortly afterward, Ball stripped references to BBB from his social media pages, changed his avatar to a childhood photo of himself wearing a Nike-branded T-shirt, permanently covered up his BBB tattoo, and posted a photograph of himself on Instagram with the caption "Moving on to bigger and better #MyOwnMan" [sic]. Ball and his family also discussed the idea of folding the Big Baller Brand altogether in the aftermath of Alan Foster's firing.
In September 2017, Ball released his first rap single, "Melo Ball 1", an ode to his youngest brother, LaMelo. Not long after, during that same month, he released the song "ZO2", a dedication to his own brand of shoes. It would later be his lead single for his upcoming debut album. The following month, Ball released another rap single titled "Super Saiyan", which is a nod to the anime and manga series Dragon Ball Z. In the track, he compares himself to Goku, the main protagonist of DBZ. On February 15, 2018, Ball and his father would participate in the Lip Sync Battle as competitors. That same day, Ball released his debut album, Born 2 Ball, under the name Zo. The album would be released under the Big Baller Music Group, a subsidiary of the Big Baller Brand, run by a close friend of his father. In March, Born 2 Ball peaked at No. 42 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart and No. 13 on its Heatseekers Albums chart.
- 2018: Born 2 Ball
- 2020: BBA (Bounce Back Album)
In February 2017, Ball's mother Tina suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for two months.
Ball has been in a long-term relationship with Denise Garcia, whom he met in high school. They split up in summer 2018 but reconciled in October 2020. They have a daughter.
Ball is a rap music enthusiast; in his spare time he writes lyrics on his phone, He also frequently goes to a studio to record music. He has said that he would be a rapper if he was not an NBA player. In August 2017, Ball and his family premiered in their Facebook Watch reality show, Ball in the Family.