Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball made his return to game action in a 108-94 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, and when he was out there he couldn’t help but notice one big difference between the team’s practice sessions and when they play in games.
“Practices are still great. I just think like we need to bring that competitive energy to the game. I feel like in practices we’re going at each other, but in game we’re not going as hard,” Ball said.
When pressed on why that might be the case, Ball demurred. “I’m not sure, to be honest. I’m going to play hard every time I step out on the court and control what I can control.”
The Lakers actually playing harder in practices than in games is obviously a problem the team will have to address if it’s what their true issue is. But this also could be the case of a young player attributing different results to a different process, when instead there is other context leading to the results.
The Lakers are going against themselves in practice, rather than another, likely better, NBA team. That isn’t to excuse any lapses in effort that the team is having or that Ball is seeing, but all things being equal, the Lakers could try just as hard in both practices and games and in all likelihood they’d fare a lot better in practice.
If the Lakers are actually for some reason practicing harder than they’re playing in games, then that is certainly a big red flag for the team to address. However, they also may just be making similar lapses in effort in practice that they’ve displayed in games over the last month and simply be getting exposed more by more talented teams than they’re capable of doing to themselves.
It remains to be seen which is the case, and those on the outside may never know. But it’s interesting that Ball feels that way, and even more interesting he said so after fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma questioned the team’s effort in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If these same self-critiques continue, it may indicate that it’s time for more drastic changes in the team’s makeup or rotation.
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