When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Isaiah Thomas from the Cleveland Cavaliers at the NBA trade deadline, most of the focus surrounding the on-court merits of the deal focused on whether or not he could play with rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.
What fell under the radar in that discussion was the knowledge Ball could potentially gain from playing on the same team as a former MVP candidate who also plays point guard. Even if Ball and Thomas are very different players.
Despite initial concern that Thomas wouldn’t want to accept a role behind Ball, he has not only flourished as a back-up to the rookie floor general, he’s also trying to take Ball under his wing and help him develop into the player the Lakers hope he can be.
Thomas outlined the advice he’s been giving Ball on maintaining confidence, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Just teach him to remain confident. There’s going to he highs and lows throughout this long season. But you got here for a reason, you’re here for a reason. You’re one of the most talented players in the world. You’ve just got to remain confident, continue to work hard, and everything else will take care of itself.”
Ball’s play was trending upwards throughout the year anyway, but having a veteran brain like Thomas’ to pick could be invaluable for his development.
Young players almost always improve no matter what as they adjust to playing at the NBA level, but veterans like Thomas can help accelerate that process either by pumping them up, giving them tricks of the trade, or both.
It sounds like Thomas is at least doing the former with Ball, and Kyle Kuzma has also lauded the veteran’s leadership. If it helps accelerate the young Lakers’ growth process, then trading for Thomas will help the Lakers in more ways than just their cap situation.