The Los Angeles Lakers had a difficult 2016-17 NBA season, but the silver lining was that their low win total allowed them to land the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, which they used on Lonzo Ball.
As one of the best passing prospects to come into the league in some time, the hope is that Ball will make his teammates better, and thus make Los Angeles an attractive place for free agents to come to. Several players have already expressed a fondness for Ball, including Thomas Robinson.
Last season, Robinson hustled his way onto the Lakers roster. He was the 5th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but struggled to find a permanent home. He wound up sticking with the Lakers last year thanks to his ability to out-rebound and out-work opponents, and while it isn’t clear if he will be back next season, he spoke fondly of playing with Ball to Hoops Hype’s Alex Kennedy:
“Players are excited to be on the court with him,” Robinson said of Ball. “You know he’s going to get you the ball, or you know he’s going to get the ball to the guy you just got open because of your screen. A lot of players won’t admit it or say it out loud, but when you have a great pass-first point guard out there with you, guys will cut harder and set the screen harder and play with a different energy because they’re confident they’ll get the ball or that the play will develop the right way. When you have five guys playing with that kind of effort, great things happen.”
For a player like Robinson, who does a solid job finishing around the rim but struggles to create his own offense, playing with a shot-creator like Ball would be an ideal fit. Ball excels in transition, and in theory, Robinson has the athleticism to get out on the run with him.
That said, the Lakers front court rotation is extremely crowded, so it’s not a lock that Robinson remains with the team. After all, reserve center Tarik Black was recently waived despite having a reasonable contract. Still, it’s good to hear that Robinson is a believer in Ball’s ability to keep teammates happy and playing hard.