Arturas Karnisovas made a major investment into point guard Lonzo Ball this offseason, and just three games into the Chicago Bulls season, he’s made good on that gamble.
The 23-year old signed a four-year, $85-million deal this summer, and has been every bit the defender, shooter, point guard, and player he was advertised as.
Just his second game in a Bulls uniform, Ball recorded a triple-double (17 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) in their 128-112 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
That made for his third triple-double with a different franchise, which at the age of 23, makes NBA history:
Ball has posted eight triple-doubles across five seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, and now, the Bulls.
With his latest effort resulting in a Chicago win, his team’s record when he records a triple-double stands at 4-4.
And after the first weekend of NBA action, the Chicago Bulls are 3-0, for the first time since the 2016-2017 season.
Lonzo Ball has played a large part in that.
The latest Bulls news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bulls newsletter here!
DeRozan: ‘He Makes the Game Easier’
When speaking with reporters (via The Athletic) after his first game with the Chicago Bulls, DeMar DeRozan made sure to compliment his new point guard:
When you’ve got a point guard of that magnitude with that IQ that’s as unselfish as he is, he makes the game easier and it makes it fun.
And not just for his efforts on the floor, but for (via NBC Sports) his overall “demeanor” as a player:
He’s a helluva player, talent, IQ. It’s fun, man. He makes it easy. What’s even better about it is he has the greatest, most humbling demeanor toward him too. But it’s definitely fun playing with him.
Following his triple-double effort against his former team, Ball touched on (via NBC Sports) his and the team’s early success:
I only can control what I can control. I’m where I want to be. And I’m happy to be here…To me, it’s just coming in every game and wanting to win that game. And trying to do the best I can to help my team win that night. That’s all it’s really about no matter who the opponent is.
So far, that’s exactly what Ball’s done, and on both ends of the ball.
He’s averaging 14 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 2.0 blocks over the Chicago Bulls’ initial three games.
The point guard’s efforts have translated to a new-look defense from Billy Donovan’s crew.
Bulls Have Shattered the Narrative on D
When the Chicago Bulls brought in DeMar DeRozan, and Lonzo Ball to accompany Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, the general outlook was a pessimistic one.
Not only did fans think that the new look personnel of this team would be able to play together, but even further, that they’d be able to form a cohesive unit on defense.
So far, that can’t be further from the case. And it’s Ball who’s spearheaded their lockdown defensive movement.
Across their first three games, the Bulls have held opponents to 94 points per game, and are boasting the fourth-best Defensive Rating (93.7) across the NBA.
For reference, those numbers sat at 111.6 and 111.5 last season respectively.
Head coach Billy Donovan praised his team’s efforts (via 670 the Score) after their win over the Detroit Pistons, the team’s third-straight to open the season:
You can’t really consider yourself a really good team if you don’t defend. Clearly if you go back and look statistically at teams that have gone from the first round to the second round, from the second round to the like conference finals, every single one of those teams is in the top 10 defensively.
This year’s Chicago Bulls, for the first time in some years, feel they have a similar ceiling to the team’s Donovan discussed.
And three games in, who can blame them?