Explaining the insignificance of Lonzo Ball's NBA Summer League MVP

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball won the NBA’s Summer League MVP as announced by the league Monday night.

Ball, 19, won the award while averaging 16.3 points, 9.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1 block per game. Ball also shot a pedestrian 38.2 percent from the floor over the course of six games.

The Lakers’ second overall pick joins the following players as recipients of the NBA Las Vegas Summer League MVP award. It’s an eclectic bunch.

Editor’s Note: The following list contains the year, player and team in bold, followed by the player’s notable career accomplishments. The players’ salaries are based on information from Basketball-Reference.

2016: Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: Jones has averaged a dismal 3.8 points and 2.7 assists per game during his two-year career. He will likely serve as a backup at point guard to recently acquired Jeff Teague. NBA career earnings: $2.62 million.

2015: Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs: Anderson has averaged 3.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game through three seasons. He could see more playing time with the departure of Jonathan Simmons. Anderson was drafted in 2014, but after the last Spurs’ championship (more on this in a second). NBA career earnings: $3.43 million.

2014: Glen Rice Jr., Washington Wizards: Rice played in 16 games over the course of two seasons for the Wizards. More recently, he faces battery charges after a strip club brawl. He last appeared in an NBA game on Nov. 7, 2014. He last played in the NBA Developmental League (now the G-League) for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. NBA career earnings: $400,000.

2013: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors: The former fifth overall pick has averaged 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game during the past five seasons. Valanciunas is due $15.46 million this upcoming season, $16.54 million in 2018-19 with a player option in 2019-20 for $17.62 million. NBA career earnings: $29.88 million.

2012: Damian Lilllard, Portland Trailblazers: Lilllard has had a promising NBA and rap career thus far making the All-NBA third team in 2014 and the All-NBA second team in 2016. The 27-year-old guard has yet to appear in a conference finals. Lillard is due $26.15 million this season, $27.98 million in 2018-19, $28.80 million in 2019-20 and $31.63 million in 2020-21. NBA career earnings: $38.17 million.

2012: Josh Selby, Memphis Grizzlies: Selby appeared in 38 games from 2011-2013 in two seasons with the Grizzlies. He currently plays for Maccabi Kiryat Gat of the Israeli Premier League. NBA career earnings: $1.31 million.

2011: No summer league due to NBA lockout.

2010: John Wall, Washington Wizards: The 26-year-old guard has made one All-NBA third team in his seven-year career. He is a four-time All-Star. Wall has yet to appear in a conference finals. He’s due $18.06 million this upcoming season and $19.17 million in 2018-19. NBA career earnings: $71.61 million.

2009: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers signed Griffin to a five-year, $173 million contract to remain with the team this offseason. Griffin is the most accomplished player on this list, despite injuries limiting him to playing 184 of his team’s last 273 games during the past three seasons, including the playoffs. He’s made three All-NBA second teams and one All-NBA third team. Griffin has appeared in several hilarious Kia Optima commercials. The 28-year-old forward has not appeared in a conference finals. NBA career earnings: $94.46 million.

2008: Jerryd Bayless, Portland Trailblazers: Bayless has played for seven teams during his 11-year career. He’s played in 61 games during the last two seasons, including the playoffs. NBA career earnings: $31.03 million.

2007: Nate Robinson, New York Knicks: The 5’9” journeyman guard is best known for his time on the Knicks, Celtics and Bulls. He contributed off the bench during Boston’s NBA Finals appearance in 2010. Robinson is also the only three-time winner of the NBA dunk contest. He currently plays for Guaros de Lara of the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in Venezuela. NBA career earnings: $24.73 million.

2006: Randy Foye, Minnesota Timberwolves: Foye, 33, is currently a free agent after playing for the Timberwolves, Wizards, Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Thunder and Nets during his 11-year career. NBA career earnings: $34.38 million.

For those of you still reading, the 12 players (including Ball) who have won a Las Vegas NBA Summer League MVP have gone on to win zero NBA titles. One has made an NBA Finals appearance (Robinson), and only four (Valanciunas, Robinson, Bayless and Foye in supporting roles) have played in a conference finals.

Yes, Ball played well enough to create buzz and intrigue for this year’s summer league. However, there’s a reason NBA fans don’t hear Summer League MVP as a notable accomplishment for the league’s well-established players.

Summer league games are exhibitions, and most players who play fight drastic odds to make an NBA roster. League rosters have expanded to 17 players this season, but it’s tough for an undrafted free agent to gain a spot.

Some of ESPN’s tweets on Ball were even more confusing considering their context compared to games that actually count towards the regular-season standings.

 

Making an apples and oranges comparison between a regular-season game and a summer league game is absurd.

Never mind the Jazz nearly snuck into the Western Conference playoffs in 2016 during Kobe Bryant’s final game as a Laker (the Jazz were eliminated from playoff contention shortly before tipoff by Houston’s win over the Kings).

Meanwhile, Ball posts video-game-like numbers against a Sixers summer league squad and he’s gets compared to Bryant, a future Hall of Famer with five NBA titles. Could the expectations for Ball be set too high?

Could Ball end up fulfilling his massive expectations? Absolutely. Will it have to do with his MVP in the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League? Probably not.

Here are some other head-scratching tweets on Ball’s obscure summer league feats. Wake me up when the regular season starts at the end of October.

Mark Bergin is a digital journalist with 10News WTSP. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email him at mbergin@wtsp.com.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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