Arguably the two members of the Los Angeles Lakers under the most pressure heading into the season were LeBron James and Lonzo Ball. James is tasked with leading the NBA’s premier franchise back to a championship while Ball faced criticism after what many deemed a disappointing rookie season.
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So far this year, both have been excellent, with Ball’s play surprising many. “He’s a very gifted basketball player, very cerebral basketball player,” James said of the young point guard. “I think when he’s playing aggressive basketball and thinking shot-first, everything else opens up for him.”
Furthermore, James complimented Ball’s defense, believing that because of the focused on offense, proper credit is not given for defense. “He has some of the quickest hands in this league,” James noted.
“I think a lot of people always try to discredit what he can do offensively and never give him enough credit for what he does defensively. Every time he’s in the lineup he’s getting two, three, four steals, deflections, all those things. When he’s aggressive offensively, it just opens up everything for our ballclub.”
Lonzo’s excellent play has lead to him remaining in the starting lineup despite Rajon Rondo’s return from suspension. That play has often been sparked by that defense including one game in which Lonzo totaled five steals.
He has been great both on and off the ball, figuring out ways to make an impact. James recognizes everything that Ball brings to the table and understands that he needs to maintain a high level of play in order for the Lakers to succeed.
The offense is obviously important, and Ball has undoubtedly stepped up on that end as well, but it’s his defense that really sparks things. And perhaps most importantly are the strides he made in the weight room and with watching film, which contribute to his all-around game.