Lonzo Ball’s rookie season has been a roller coaster ride for the Los Angeles Lakers, with the point guard being as polarizing as expected. There are triple-doubles, and there are single-digit outings and benched fourth quarters.
Count Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson as someone who isn’t worried about Ball’s growing pains as a rookie. Johnson shared an illuminating 20 minutes discussing the state of the franchise with Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet. In that, he gave his progress report on Lonzo’s first 25 games.
“Typical rookie season, but he's special,” Johnson said of Ball’s inconsistent start. “His basketball IQ is off the charts, we've seen a couple games where he's had triple-doubles.”
Something Magic attributes to the bumpy start to Lonzo’s career is the Lakers’ lack of an experienced point guard to help guide him. Tyler Ennis certainly isn’t the guy for that, and Jordan Clarkson is more of a combo guard than “point” guard.
“We don't have a veteran guy in terms of a point guard that can help Lonzo along the way and teach him the ropes. He's thrown in and he has to learn game-by-game, and that's hard for a rookie at the point guard position,” Magic said.
What Lonzo does have is one of the greatest point guards in NBA history at his disposal, and one that is fully invested in his success. Johnson plans on breaking down film with his hand-picked franchise guard soon.
“We've had our conversations, and we're going to have a film session together. I was waiting for about 25-to-30 games. After that, we're going to sit down, point guard to point guard, and just hang out. Watch film, and ask him what does he see and I'll tell him what I see, and then how do we correct this or that,” Johnson said.
The Lakers are at the midway point of a four-game road trip, which ends on Thursday in Cleveland. They’ll be off until Monday when the Golden State Warriors visit STAPLES Center, which could present a good opportunity for the two to pow-wow over film.
Beyond that, though, Magic wants to make himself available to Lonzo as a confidant he can turn to. Ball has tremendous expectations to live up to — some of which was generated from the lips of Johnson himself — and Magic wants to help him shoulder some of that as a mentor.
“I'm here for him, and not just basketball. I'm also here just to be a listening ear. I think he needs a guy just to sit and listen to him. Just talk. I've never seen a guy with this type of pressure on him,” Magic said.
How Johnson’s influence on Ball will impact his career is an interesting, intangible, aspect to this that will play out over time. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of their film session.
*All quotes transcribed via Spectrum SportsNet