While Stephen Curry and LeBron James continue to top NBA jersey sales, a new face appeared on the NBA's jersey rankings.
For NBAstore.com jersey sales based on data for the months of October through December of 2017, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball ranked no. 11 ahead of Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, the NBA announced on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Lakers ranked fourth in overall merchandise behind only the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers.
For the 2016-17 season, no Lakers player finished in the top 15 for jersey sales, which was a departure from the two-decade-long Kobe Bryant era. However, the new local kid from UCLA appears to be the right face for the franchise in picking up the metaphorical marketing torch Bryant placed on the ground when he announced "Mamba Out."
On the court, Ball is also filling the void left behind by Bryant.
With over half the season complete, Ball is averaging 10.2 points, 7.1 assists, 7.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks in 33.9 minutes per game. His three-point shooting is finally up over 30 percent for the season, as Ball has improved as the season has progressed.
Recently, Ball has been incredible considering his age and level of experience. Over the past five weeks, Ball has played in 11 games and averaged 13.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 2.3 steals in 36.5 minutes per outing. The Lakers are 5-6 with Ball in the lineup and 0-7 without the 20-year-old point guard over that stretch. In addition, Ball shot 39.0 percent from three-point land over the most recent five weeks, so his historically poor shooting start to the season is a distant memory at this stage and talk of reworking his shot over the summer also subsiding.
Undeniably, Ball's father has helped his son's popularity with headline making quotes, media generating public appearances and even a show on Facebook, but the 20-year-old Chino Hills native has displayed that he's a special talent and worthy of the hype train that dropped him off at the Lakers' station.
Without Ball, the Lakers have lost by an average of 16.0 points per game, while his presence has a notable positive impact on both ends of the court. As much as Ball is proving to be the star of the team on the floor, the jersey sales and merchandising numbers back up that Ball is the Lakers' star off it, too.
To see the full NBA Jersey and Merchandising Rankings: Click Here