Latest Laker: Isaac Bonga

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

The Lakers have officially acquired Isaac Bonga, completing a trade with Philadelphia for the 39th-overall draft pick.

Despite having the frame of a small forward, the 18-year-old has begun his career as a point guard, towering over his positional peers in Germany’s top league.

At 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, he has impressive size for a ball handler, and the length to match.

He started 19 of 21 games for the Fraport Skyliners last season, averaging 7.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals.

His assists numbers are low for a player that has shown as promising vision as Bonga has. He has been particularly effective at finding scorers in transition, though he is also capable of running pick-and-rolls.

As for his own offense, Bonga once again thrives in transition, where his eye-catching length and surprising fluidity are best displayed.

However, he is also capable of putting those gifts to use in the half court.

Whether it’s in pick-and-roll or isolation, Bonga is learning how to use his long strides to get to the cup and his elite, 7-foot wingspan to finish.

Those javelin-like arms also help him on the defensive end, where he invades passing lanes and has shown potential for blocking shots.

That being said, the teenager is still a longterm prospect for the Lakers.

He shot a solid 34.3 percent on 3-pointers, but that figure dips to 30.2 when factoring his seven-game stint in Germany’s secondary league. His mechanics need smoothing, and he’ll have to adjust to the farther NBA 3-point line.

He is also still figuring out how to handle ball pressure and when to take chances, as he averaged 4.0 turnovers last season.

Still, Bonga’s potential is unquestioned for a player his age.

Two months ago the Neuweid native debuted for the German national team, becoming the youngest player to do so in 40 years.

Also the second-youngest player in this year’s draft, Bonga could see more time developing overseas before joining the Lakers later.

Either way, point guard prospects of his size and length are practically nonexistent, so the Lakers are eager to see what Bonga becomes over the next few years, regardless of location.

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