The Los Angeles Lakers spent the entire free agency period overhauling their roster for the 2018-19 NBA season, signing LeBron James and adding a plethora of veterans to go along with its existing young core. Among the many newcomers include 10-year forward Michael Beasley.
Beasley, who thrived in a bench role for the New York Knicks last season, looks to complement the Lakers’ second unit with instant offense and improved shooting from behind the arc, all the while bringing a defensive presence as well.
While the new-look roster has yet to suit up together, the team has nevertheless garnered plenty of criticism for its massive amount of turnover and unpredictability.
Beasley quickly came to the defense of his teammates, opining that the Lakers’ roster is ready to usher in a new era of winning basketball.
Beasley also individually defended point guard Lonzo Ball, who found himself on the receiving end of constant negativity for his play as a rookie, via Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report:
“I’m a big Lonzo fan. I don’t understand how Lonzo gets so much criticism, averaging almost 11 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal and a block per game. Granted, his percentages were low, but you all think Russell Westbrook can shoot, and he’s got the same three-point percentage. (Ed: Lonzo’s was a tick higher last year.) Two years ago, Malcolm Brogdon won Rookie of the Year with 10 points and three rebounds a game, but now Lonzo is 11-7-7 and he’s a bust? I’m a Lonzo fan. I think if you just let him play and not worry about if he can shoot or not, I think you will see a player that knows how and wants to play a complete game of basketball.”
Ball, the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, struggled to stay on the court for much of his rookie campaign but still put forth a solid season on both sides of the ball.
While he struggled with his shot, Ball filled the stat sheet in other ways with per-game averages of 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds in 34.2 minutes (52 games).
As Beasley points out, Ball performed better statistically in his rookie season than Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, who earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. He also noted that Ball sported nearly the same three-point percentage (30.5 percent) as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook last season (29.8 percent).
That being said, Beasley expects Ball to take the next step in his career as a sophomore with an improved supporting cast headlined by the NBA’s best player in James.