Lonzo Ball’s passing has turned plenty of heads (and hit others in practice) but few things can impact a game the way his ability to get the ball up the court can. Luke Walton appeared on ESPN’s “The Lowe Post” with Zach Lowe and spoke about those passes and, well, it’s safe to say he’s a fan.
“It's a simple thing,” Walton said. “But, like you said, when you're a wing player or you're a big man and you know if you run the floor, that ball's going to hit you, and he does it 100 percent of the time.
“We preach to our wings and our bigs to sprint that lane, sprint that lane. But when the ball's actually getting thrown to them, now they're more likely, now they want to get out there. Those are free points, free lay-ups for them,” Walton continued, adding that just watching it has some of Lonzo’s teammates pumped up to play with him.
“I saw Jordan Clarkson here. He was already really excited about how hard he's going to run the lanes next year he was telling me. Larry Nance texted me on the phone, same idea,” Walton said.
There has been a pretty stark difference in how quickly guys are getting up and down the court thus far, and it makes sense that being rewarded consistently for doing so would lead to that trend continuing.
Ball’s passes up the court can be risky at times, but Walton doesn’t seem phased by the gamble.
“It could be risky, but for now, I don't give a damn. Throw the ball every time,” Walton said.
The vast majority of rookies struggle in that first year. Point guards probably have a harder time than most in getting used to the NBA’s speed. It could be interesting to watch if this style of getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible might help ease that burden as Ball figures things out all over the court.
For now, though, all we can do is hope the Lakers are conditioned well enough to keep up with the pace Lonzo’s passing allows. As Walton says, if they do, there’s a really good chance they’ll be rewarded.