The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have struck gold with rookie point guard Lonzo Ball. Although it is only the NBA Summer League, Ball has made quite an impression in Las Vegas through his first three games on the squad.
Along with instantly becoming the undisputed leader of the team in Summer League, Ball’s play has completely changed the dynamic for the Lakers. Ball’s pass-first mentality has been contagious leading to a lot of easy baskets for his teammates as well as the team as a whole being a nightmare to defend for opponents.
Head coach Luke Walton recently made an appearance on The Lowe Post Podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe and talked about Lonzo’s impact thus far:
“It’s what I hoped I was gonna see,” Walton said of Ball. “It’s why I wanted to draft him so badly. The way he passes the ball, the way he plays the game is contagious. Other guys on the team are starting to play like that. You can see the team taking joy in making the extra pass now, and that’s how we wanna play as an organization.”
Walton also goes on to explain what it is like being the player receiving the pass from a point guard like Ball. The second-year head coach admits Lonzo’s pass-happy style can be risky, but he really doesn’t care because the pros outweigh the cons:
“When you’re a wing player, or you’re a big man and you know if you run the floor that ball is gonna hit you, and he does it 100 percent of the time. If you watch him as he’s getting the ball out of bounds, his head is already surveying what’s going on in front of him, and if a defender is not looking, he’s throwing it. It could be risky, but for now, I don’t give a damn, throw the ball every time. […] We preach to our wings and our bigs to sprint that lane, sprint that lane. But when the ball is actually getting thrown to them, now they’re more likely, now they want to get out there because those are free points, free layups for them.”
With two triple-doubles to his credit already, and the Lakers advancing in the Summer League playoffs, Ball hasn’t missed a beat since his dominant performances with UCLA last year. Although his debut wasn’t ideal, Ball has already made most forget about his 2-for-15 performance as he’s put on a show on a nightly basis.
The real question will be whether Lonzo can continue to play at this level during the NBA regular season for the Lakers. Even though that remains to be seen, Walton and Lakers fans like what they see with a potential star in the making leading the way for the storied franchise.