Court vision is a nebulous term but you know it when you see it. The ability to know where all 10 players are on the court is rare. There are perhaps 10 guys in the league with that level of awareness. In addition to awareness, anticipation is a key ingredient. Seeing the play before it develops and reading the defense to make early reads is the difference between Magic Johnson and Dennis Johnson. DJ was a fine point guard, but Magic was magic.
Lonzo Ball just dominated Summer League. I know, it’s just Summer League, but he demonstrated that the court vision he displayed in college should translate to the NBA style of play. His unselfishness with the basketball was on full display and seemed to infect his teammates who all seemed willing to make the next pass.
How well a player sees the floor is, obviously, difficult to quantify. Assist numbers are subjective, with most players getting a friendlier statistician at home than on the road. Court vision is certainly an eye test attribute. Lonzo Ball passes the eye test in every scenario. The ability to see the hit ahead pass is one of the most useful assets for any ballhandler. Lonzo had that ability on full display in Vegas.
By making the pass to Kuzma from the halfcourt line, Lonzo not only caught the defense before it was set, but also created spacing to keep Kuzma open. If Ball waited until he got to the wing to make the entry pass, the help defender would have been available to slide over and defend the basket. Kuzma made a really nice play after the pass, but the lane is there because Ball was conscious of the situation.
Speaking of post entry passes, Lonzo also has a knack for passing his teammates open. He recognizes mismatches early and with pinpoint accuracy delivers the ball to spots where his guys can get buckets. In this play, Zubac gets a smaller defender who is trying to deny the inside pass. Once Zubac gets the seal, Ball delivers a beautiful pass from about 25 feet to Zubac’s outside shoulder, allowing him to catch and turn in one motion for the easy basket.
Ball is at his most dangerous in transition off defensive rebounds. When the defense is scrambling to recover, he is looking up the court for the touchdown pass.
Certainly, there are concerns about parts of Lonzo’s game. His pick and roll defense, finishing ability, and much maligned lack of ability to shoot going to his right are all well documented. But the advantages created by his court vision should more than make up for these weaknesses. Lonzo Ball is entering the league as a top 10 passer. The ability to make your teammates better is an incredibly important skill, particularly on a team this young. Player development is only demonstrated when players get opportunities on the court. Lonzo puts his teammates in the best position to succeed.
His court vision definitely passes the eye test.