The Los Angeles Lakers have fully caught Lonzo Ball fever from top to bottom. Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have raved about the 19-year-old point guard from the second they’ve drafted him, and his teammates at Las Vegas Summer League have enjoyed his uniquely unselfish stylings as well.
Lakers forward Julius Randle hasn’t gotten to play with Ball yet, but when asked during an ESPN interview during the Lakers 95-92 win over the Sacramento Kings if he’s played with someone who has court vision and passes the ball like Ball does, he made it clear he likes what he’s seen.
“Not really. Not for a guy that’s coming in as a rookie at his age personally that I’ve played with, no. He’s been amazing,” Randle said. “He makes the easy play, he makes the right play and he makes everybody better so I think everybody is going to have fun playing with him.”
Some people are going to take this as shade at recently shipped out point guard D’Angelo Russell, but the reality is that the question specifically asked if Randle had played with someone of Ball’s vision and passing skill. For all of Russell’s talents, he wasn’t quite on Ball’s level at those two skills, and didn’t utilize them with the verve and frequency that Ball does. It’s possible Randle was taking a shot at Russell on his way out the door, but it’s also just as possible he wasn’t.
In the positive column, it’s good news for the Lakers that Randle is excited to play with Ball, and given the way the latter’s passing has infected the Lakers and turned everyone into an eager playmaker, his presence could be particularly beneficial for Randle entering a make-or-break contract year.
Not only will Ball be able to try and help put Randle in the best positions to succeed, but he also may catch the passing fever and utilize more of the tantalizing passing skill he’s shown so infrequently over the past two seasons. If Ball can help make Randle into an eager facilitator in the open floor, it might be one of his biggest contributions during his rookie campaign.