Lonzo Ball Wonders How 2018-19 Lakers Season Would’ve Turned Out Without Injuries
LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018-19 Los Angeles Lakers are an interesting “what if” in recent franchise history. It was LeBron James’ first year with the team and the Lakers had a talented group of young players led by Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.

The prior season, the Lakers’ young core showed serious potential and had some excellent moments. The team had also hired Luke Walton as the head coach and he seemed to connect with his roster as the season went on. Ball, in particular, was under a lot of pressure as a hometown product, not to mention his father putting plenty of extra expectations on him.

It was certainly a different time for Ball, who recently reflected on coming into the league with the Lakers in an appearance on the ‘From the Point’ Podcast with Trae Young. Ball noted that the first season with the Lakers, the team had no leadership but that all changed when LeBron came on board the following year:

“You know how it is, you don’t really know what to expect. You know coming into something new especially the NBA for me it was a lot different than college personally just because, honestly I think college is important too, you got to pick the right school to go to. You need to go to who wants you where you can rock out and do your thing like that. So NBA you don’t really get to decide that much, you know what I’m saying, it’s just based off the draft and who needs what.

“But for me it was just coming in and try to work as hard as I can to learn as much as I can. I would say it was a little tougher just because when I went to the Lakers my first year we didn’t have no vets, we didn’t have no leadership or nothing, it was just a bunch of young guys, a young coach and we were all trying to figure it out at the same time. I don’t think we ever really got on the same page my rookie year, but that kinda changed my second year when we got Rondo and Bron and some more vets around the team to really guide young guys. You know that’s important in the league, showing us the way and stuff like that and it was going good, but we just all got hurt that second year. But other than that I don’t regret nothing, like you said I played for my hometown team that was a dream come true for me.”

And that second year was going well as the Lakers were on pace to be a playoff team and defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. But in that same game, James went down with injury and soon the rest of the team followed as well, leading Ball to ultimately wonder what could’ve been in 2019:

“I mean you could just tell, obviously with Bron in the gym it’s just a different feel just off that. But way more attention to detail, like our practices were way different. It was just literally night and day and I really wish we could’ve seen what could’ve happened that second year, but everybody went down starting with Bron first and then me, then B.I., Rondo like our whole team got hurt.”

At that point, the Anthony Davis trade rumors were already in full force so it’s hard to say the Lakers still wouldn’t have made that deal the ensuing summer. But LeBron, Ingram, Ball and Rondo all playing 55 games or less changed the trajectory of the team and a playoff run could have led the Lakers to view certain players in a different light.

There is no way to know exactly how things could have been different, but ultimately the Lakers got their championship the next year which makes everything worth it.

Austin Reaves believes Lakers teammate LeBron James is greatest player ever

James ultimately brought the Lakers back amongst the NBA’s elite and one of his newest burgeoning star teammates is Austin Reaves, who believes he is playing with the greatest player ever.

Reaves recently gave his take that LeBron is the GOAT, noting that even though he is a Kobe guy, James being so good in so many facets of the game gives him the edge.

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