Lonzo Ball's curtain-raiser for Chicago Bulls: What can we expect from the enigmatic star in the 2021-22 NBA season?

Lonzo Ball made his debut appearance for the Chicago Bulls in a preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers
Lonzo Ball made his debut appearance for the Chicago Bulls in a preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers

Lonzo Ball made his first appearance for the Chicago Bulls in their blow-out preseason victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Multiple players on the Chicago Bulls were making their first appearance. However, it was Ball's partnership with both Zach Lavine and Alex Caruso that gave insight into how the Bulls could look this season.

Despite acclimating to a new system and new teammates, Lonzo Ball provided everything he was acquired for: pushing the pace, quarterbacking the offense, solid perimeter defense, and helping out on the boards. During his time on the floor, we also saw some seeds of partnerships forming among Lavine, Caruso, and Nikola Vucevic, who thrived playing both a high-low and inside-out passing game.

Let's take a closer look at what we saw from Lonzo Ball in his first Chicago Bulls game.

"It's awesome"The Bulls react to what it's like to play alongside Lonzo Ball.For @NBCSChicago:…


At 6'6'', Lonzo Ball is a matchup nightmare on the perimeter. He can play both his man and the passing lanes to a high level.

Lonzo Ball ended the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with three steals to his name. He was a disruptive presence all night long and ended the contest with a further five deflections.

Ball's height and length made him a constant threat to the Cavaliers side as they continually found his outstretched arms filling their passing lanes.


Lonzo Ball's defensive performance goes deeper than his ability to guard the passing lanes, though. The 23-year-old also ended the game with two blocked shots and finished second on his team in contested shots with 6.

With the height of a wing and the mobility to match, Lonzo Ball ensured his height, length, and weight advantage was used to full effect against Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.

Another positive aspect of Lonzo Ball's defense is his willingness to generate transition opportunities off forced turnovers. In the sequence that followed the above play, Lonzo Ball broke free with two other players to get an easy bucket.


Billy Donovan will be aiming to generate defensive-to-offensive possessions at a high clip this year. He will look to both Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to lead the way.

Finally, Lonzo Ball also showed an improved aptitude for guarding the low-block when switched onto bigger opponents. The Cleveland Cavaliers got the switch they wanted several times but were unable to capitalize due to Lonzo Ball's positioning and quick hands.


Lonzo Ball can fire pitch-ahead passes from anyone on the court, rivaling Kevin Love for his one-pass transition offense.

It makes sense that the Chicago Bulls would want Lonzo Ball to fight for defensive rebounds whenever possible, as he could instantly turn defense into offense.


Watch (above) how quickly Lonzo Ball gets the ball up the court following his defensive rebound. The only other guard who goes coast-to-coast with such regularity is Russell Westbrook. However, the two guards have vastly different playstyles. The comparison is just to reference transition speed.

Lonzo Ball ended the game with six rebounds, with five coming on the defensive end. Billy Donovan will still want Ball to be judicial when he crashes the boards.

Ball is also a threat when he leaks out in transition to provide the likes of Vucevic with an outlet opportunity.


Nothing screams Lonzo Ball more than a passing clinic. The Cleveland Cavaliers were taken to school for stretches as Ball ended the contest with four assists.

The boxscore seldom tells the full story, and if you watch the tape, you will see how crisp and decisive Lonzo Ball was when distributing the rock.

Obviously, we got a highlight pass.

This pairing of Lonzo and Lavine is going to be money all season long.

The entire Chicago Bulls rotation looked keyed in when looking for the open man or passing to beat a defensive switch, with Ball's presence empowering them to do so.

With such an array of firepower on their roster, the Chicago Bulls will be a tough matchup when Lonzo Ball is dictating play this season.

Furthermore, Ball mixed his passes, choosing when to push the pace or allow the offense to set up in the half-court. He also trusted the ball-handlers within the rotation and often worked off-ball to allow his teammates opportunities to create for themselves and others off the dribble.

That off-ball skill has been in development for the last two seasons, and Lonzo Ball looks like a serious threat as a cutter and spot-up shooter heading into this campaign.


Part of Lonzo Ball's off-ball development has been due to his re-worked jump shot and consistency off the catch from deep. Against the Cavaliers, Ball shot 2-of-5 from deep but flashed some encouraging signs in terms of form and release point.


Watch (above) Lonzo Ball on the weak side of this play. See how he sinks into the corner as the play unfolds, getting ready in case his number is called. As Ball receives the pass, he instantly goes into his shooting motions and drains the three in rhythm.

This type of catch-and-shoot opportunity was outside of Ball's comfort zone just two years ago, which shows the work and development he has made on his three-point shot. The additional spacing he will provide for slashers such as DeMar DeRozan can't be understated. When coupled with his own drive-and-kick game, it could become a fearsome weapon.

Lonzo Ball's shooting improvements will make him a tough matchup on the perimeter. With his size, he can scan the floor to make reads or operate as a cutter and locate scoring pockets.

Overall takeaways

Overall, Lonzo Ball showed encouraging signs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Chicago Bulls look stronger with him running the offense. There was clearly an emphasis on pushing the pace and re-locating each pass, which perfectly fed into Ball's skill set.

With this only being the preseason, there's so much more to come from this roster, and fans can't wait to see how Lonzo Ball further integrates himself into the team.

Also Read: Who is Lonzo Ball’s girlfriend, Ally Rossel?

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Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh
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