When Luke Walton took over as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers a year ago, he made it clear that he wants to implement an up-tempo system, much like the one the Golden State Warriors have perfected in the past few seasons with Walton as an assistant and interim head coach when Steve Kerr was dealing with health issues.
The one thing the Lakers were missing last season to fit the system though was a point guard who can get the team out in transition on a consistent basis. They addressed that need in the draft this year, selecting UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick.
Ball is a pass-first point guard who has been playing a fast, up-tempo style his entire life, so it seems to be a match made in heaven. Speaking with Lang Whitaker of NBA.com during the Panini America rookie photo shoot, Ball discussed fitting into Walton’s system, and how he’ll do whatever it takes to win:
“I think I’ll fit in pretty good. He wants to play fast, that’s how I’ve been playing my whole life and he needs someone to run the team. I feel I could do that too. I’m just coming in there with a mindset to win and just trying to do whatever I can to make that happen.”
Ball has won everywhere he has played, as he led Chino Hills High School to a California State Championship his senior year. He then changed the entire culture at UCLA in his one year there, improving them from 15-17 the year before he got there to 31-5 and an appearance in the Sweet 16 last year.
Ball demonstrated the impact he can make in the Las Vegas Summer League, as he led the Lakers to their first ever summer league championship, earning MVP honors.
His pass-first mentality and willingness to get his teammates involved is something the NBA hasn’t seen in a long time, and should be a breath of fresh air for Laker fans, who have endured a lot of losing the past four seasons.