Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball participated in practice with his teammates Tuesday, and while he won’t be healthy enough to play before the All-Star break, the activity did give head coach Luke Walton his first chance to see Ball and Isaiah Thomas play together.
“They were in the same group, they looked good,” Walton said, and he wasn’t surprised that the two lead guards paired well together. “It’s funny, when you put skilled, intelligent basketball players on the same team, they seem to make each other and their unit look pretty good.”
Thomas and Ball would appear to be a solid fit to varying degrees on both ends of the court. Ball might be listed as a point guard, but he is far from the type of traditional, ball-dominant floor general Thomas is.
Instead, Ball plays fast, deciding nearly as soon as he gets the ball to move it on to the next player or take a dribble to set up that next pass.
Playing with Thomas would, in theory, alleviate some of the playmaking burden for Ball, as well as giving him the opportunity to get easier looks off of spot-ups and screens.
On the other end of the floor the tandem wouldn’t be perfect, but Ball is a larger player for his position and has been better than expected on defense. That could allow him to take the more threatening guard assignment and leave the lesser threat in the opposing backcourt to the diminutive and defensively-challenged Thomas.
That theoretical fit would throw a significant variable into the rest of the Lakers’ rotation, but Walton said he isn’t thinking that far ahead yet. “I don’t work like that. We prepare with the guys we have right now,” he said.
“Zo is not even active, so I’m not even going to spend time thinking about (starting him with Thomas) until we get to that situation.”
For right now, Walton isn’t planning to make any changes to the starting lineup the Lakers have had success with in recent games.
“We’ll stick to the same one we’ve had since Brooklyn,” Walton said.