The Los Angeles Lakers came away with their first preseason victory Sunday night, defeating the Sacramento Kings in a low-scoring affair. Although the Lakers got some stellar play from Brook Lopez, Alex Caruso, and Julius Randle, the team has been dealing with the injury bug.
Point guard Lonzo Ball missed his second consecutive game due to his ankle sprain, as the Lakers missed the orchestrator of their offense. That clearly showed on the court, as the Lakers were only able to muster only 75 points in 48 minutes of action.
During his small sample size, Ball has shown that he is still adjusting to the style of play in the NBA, getting a grasp for the balance between taking shots and creating for his teammates.
The 19-year-old still has a lot to learn during his rookie campaign. However, he is attacking it with a professional attitude, just as the Lakers had envisioned. During an interview with Mirin Fader of Bleacher Report, Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss stated that Ball is thriving on expectations and has the same attitude as a young Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson:
“I’ve been around people like a Kobe Bryant, and a Magic Johnson, who thrive on expectations and pressure. This is what they want. They want to compete. They don’t feel pressure; they welcome pressure. That’s what feeds them,” Jeanie Buss, controlling owner of the Lakers, tells B/R Mag. “Lonzo is the type of professional who wants to play basketball. He wants to win games and entertain a crowd, and I’m not concerned that those expectations will weigh him down.”
After being selected No. 2 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, Ball has had heavy expectations placed on his shoulders, whether from the Lakers or the media. During his introductory press conference, Johnson stated that he expects Ball’s jersey to be someday retired in the Lakers rafters. Many expect All-Star caliber play from Ball, with constant comparisons to future Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd.
However, Ball has shown time and time again that he takes things at his own pace, never getting emotionally detached and always keeping his calm demeanor. In 57 minutes of action in two preseason games, Ball has totaled 13 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, and three steals.
The Lakers have already conversed with Ball about how to improve on the court, with Walton stating that Ball must capitalize on his scoring opportunities. At the same time, Ball agreed with his head coach and is once again using these heavy expectations to thrive upon. Although the regular season doesn’t begin until Oct. 19, Ball will continue to show that he is the franchise point guard the Lakers envisioned that will bring them back to prominence.