Welcome to the Weekly Open, a new weekly thread we’re trying here during these long summer months.
The goal of the Weekly Open is to provide you, the savvy reader/commenter/smart person who came to this website a place to just hang out. Most of our comment sections are directly related to the article in question, and usually stay as on-topic as possible, so we wanted to create a space where you can just hang out for the week, talk about whatever you want to talk about, regardless if it involves UCLA or not.
So I attended a wedding this weekend, which was very nice and the couple were lovely and all that. But at 9 PM (which was midnight on the East Coast) everyone suddenly turned to their phones because NBA free agency was about to begin, and all the Lakers fans in the room (myself included) were waiting to see if something was about to happen.
Of course, we should have just waited for the next day, when LeBron James made the announcement that he was joining the purple and gold for the next four years. I’m not going to get into the details of how this affects the Lakers going forward, but I am going to focus on how this could affect UCLA and UCLA-adjacent things.
First off, it feels pretty obvious that LeBron will be around the UCLA basketball program more often. He’s already been to the summer rec games that many pros attend at the Wooden Center, and with him now fully-living in LA, this seems like it will be a more common occurrence moving forward. Similarly, with his homes being in Brentwood, I wouldn’t be surprised to see LeBron show up at a few UCLA games going forward, as the Bruins have always attracted NBA stars to their games. All of this is to say LeBron being around the UCLA program in this way could be used as a positive recruiting tool going forward.
Then there is the question of LeBron’s son, Bronny. Bronny is entering 8th grade this year, and the question will be what high school program he ends up enrolled at going forward, with current signs pointing to Sierra Canyon. More importantly, Bronny already appears to be a solid basketball prospect at an early age, so the question becomes whether UCLA may end up in the running for his services. Bronny would not graduate high school until 2023, and by that point the one-and-done rules may have changed (reports indicate that the rule could be removed by the 2021 NBA Draft), so this is clearly a look into the future, but you’d have to think that a UCLA program so close to James’s home would at the very least do their due diligence here.
Finally, let’s talk about what LeBron’s arrival in LA means for former Bruin Lonzo Ball. There’s been some consternation from some parts of the basketball world about how Ball would fit next to James, for example:
If the Lakers keep Lonzo, will be interesting to see how Luke Walton (or LeBron) runs the offense. Both Lonzo and LeBron at their best with the ball in their hands.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) July 2, 2018
Really, this is just a bad take. Lonzo operates extremely well without the ball in his hands. In fact, his best trait on offense is his brilliant mind, which he uses to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible into the best spot for a made basket. He doesn’t need the ball all the time to make an impact. Plus, his outside shooting percentage got increasingly better as the year progressed, and you’d assume he’d be able get more open looks going forward with the attention now being shifted to stopping one of the greatest players of all time.
There is a more interesting aspect of the LeBron and Lonzo team-up, which is how LeBron will deal with one Lavar Ball (who, let it be said, did call his shot that LeBron would end up on the Lakers). You have to imagine that LeBron won’t be willing to put up with Lavar’s antics, but the presence of LeBron may be enough to get Lavar to calm down and let his oldest son play basketball in peace. We’ll see.
Anyway, this is your open thread for the week. Have fun.