Hawks: Lonzo Ball would be a great fit with Trae Young

DMK2001030186 NOP at LAL

The Atlanta Hawks have a pivotal offseason ahead of them. Even outside of bringing back John Collins, Travis Schlenk will have some pocket change to add a couple of free agents to round out the roster. He should consider Lonzo Ball, who is just 23-years-old and will be a restricted free agent. This means the Pelicans can match any offer sheet to retain him or even use him as a sign-and-trade piece — identical to the Collins situation in Atlanta.

As reported on Tuesday by¬†The Athletic’s Shams Charania, New Orleans is unlikely to match a significant offer sheet on Ball. Though there is a bevy of teams interested in Ball, the Hawks could still make a move to acquire the rising star. From a fit standpoint, Ball would be perfect next to Trae Young.

This would give the Hawks two guards with high IQs, great vision, and playmaking. Neither of the guys has to have the ball in their hands to be effective on offense, and Ball has proven to be comfortable playing more off-ball, which is what he would do in Atlanta. Since entering the league, Ball has always been tenacious on the defensive end, but he’s also improved offensively in every one of his NBA seasons.

Ball’s improved offensive efficiency and stellar defense pair perfectly with Young’s game for obvious reasons. When they’re on the court together, the former UCLA Bruin can play off-ball and match the opponent’s best offensive guard on the defensive end. He’s turned into an effective three-point threat, shooting 37.8% from deep on 8.3 attempts per contest this past season.

When Young is off the court, Ball can run the offense. He had a career year in 2020-21, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in just 31.8 minutes per game. Only six players matched or surpassed Lonzo in points, assists, and rebounds (Curry, Lowry, Irving, Randle, Jokic, Brogdon), and each exceeded 34 minutes per game.

If you round that stat line up to per-36 data, Ball is posting a cool 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals — with a career-best effective field goal percentage of 53.7% to go with it. The idea of a Young-Ball backcourt is enticing, but even though I believe it is possible, the deal working out is unlikely for financial reasons. Some comparable deals would be Fred VanVleet‘s four-year, $85 million deal or Dejounte Murry’s four-year, $63.8 million deal. Ball will likely be somewhere between four years, $80-90 million, which would price the Hawks out of the sweepstakes unless there was an attempt to sign-and-trade by Schlenk.

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