There’s still optimism that Lonzo Ball would reach All-Star status in the future, at least that’s what the analytics experts at FiveThirtyEight are suggesting.

Ball, the former No.2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, will begin his third year in the NBA playing for a new team, as the Los Angeles Lakers shipped him along with Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a haul of first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for All-NBA forward Anthony Davis.

The 21-year-old point guard has been a below-average field goal shooter in the past two seasons, shooting just 31 percent from the 3-point area and 38 percent overall. His career free-throw clip of 44 percent is among the lowest free-throw percentage in the NBA.

But despite his erratic shooting, Ball remains an intriguing prospect because of his all-around potential. In two seasons with the Lakers, the UCLA product averaged 10.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in 32 minutes per contest. He’s already an outstanding perimeter defender, thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame.

Higher Upside for Ball

According to FiveThirtyEight projections, Ball will have a higher WARP peak than his 2017 Draft classmates Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings.

In the world of analytics, WARP means Wins Above Replacement Player or a metric that determines the value of a player by theoretically putting him on the basketball floor with four "average" players, and compares that to the team results if those four average players were on the floor with a "replacement-level" player.

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FiveThirtyEight’s model showed Ball with a peak WARP of 7.5, while Fox, Tatum, and Mitchell got peak WARPs of 4.8, 6.1 and 5.7, respectively. These four players are projected to be future All-Stars, but the metrics favored the UCLA product to have a better NBA career over the next five years.

Ball will be eligible for a contract extension after the 2019-2020 season. The Pelicans will treat this season as an audition year for Ball, Ingram, and Hart.

Many analysts feel Ball has the best chance of sticking with the Pelicans long-term because his skills set would mesh pretty well with high-flyer and franchise’s cornerstone Zion Williamson.

If Ball lives up to his potential, his next contract could be as high as $258.2 million over five years, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Switching Agency

Ball has already changed his agent this summer, switching from veteran agent Harrison Gaines to Creative Artists Agency.

The move means Ball, Zion and former teammate Kyle Kuzma are now under CAA umbrella, which turns out a surprise since many thought Ball and Kuzma would join LeBron James’ Klutch Sports.

With his decision to part ways with his father’s Big Baller Brand, Ball will have an opportunity to earn more money by signing an endorsement contract with any sports apparel giants like Nike and Adidas. But before that happens, Ball must prove he can be a marketing star by playing well with the Pelicans next season.

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