The Los Angeles Lakers made a stern decision this offseason when they handed the keys to their franchise to No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball. Set to take over the starting point guard duties, Ball will be the creative playmaker on the court, helping facilitate Luke Walton’s uptempo offense. While a lot of expectations are in place, Ball’s calm and professional demeanor have shown the right signs thus far.
During his introductory press conference, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka weren’t shy in stating the standards they have set for Ball. Johnson proudly stated he expects Ball’s jersey to one day hang in the rafters alongside himself, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal, among others. At the same time, it is important to remember the 19-year-old is still entering his rookie season, with no NBA experience under his belt.
Although the ‘Showtime’ days are a thing of the past, they are often set as the precedent to abide by. However, that doesn’t mean that Johnson and Pelinka aren’t tweaking their expectations, especially to a different set of personalities. “I got to coach him how to cuss a guy out. Cuz all you old heads, they know I didn’t play that,” Johnson stated.
“No, I think that Lonzo’s style is excellent. Actually, I’m kind of happy that he’s not like me because when I came in, I had veterans. I had to be that way. He’s got young guys. The game is different today, and so everybody was waiting what was this dude going to do. Is he going to come in like a pre-Madonna? Is he going to come in wanting everything? You know what? He’s been the opposite. That’s why they fell in love with him. He’s just been Lonzo.”
Although all the comparisons are in place between Johnson and Ball, they do have relatively different personalities on the court. Johnson was a prototypical encouraging teammate, not afraid of yelling at his fellow Lakers when he feels like something should be called out. On the other hand, Ball has been quite the opposite, letting his play do the talking and hoping it pushes his teammates forward.
While he isn’t the vocal teammate that Johnson was, his teammates have noticed his leadership style and have raved about it all offseason. Forward Julius Randle even referred to his playing style as contagious, as it pushes forward a selfless style of basketball, with the team wanting to succeed as a whole.
Although Ball may not be the most vocal player, his ability to create and his basketball IQ will speak louder than any words will.