There may be no bigger benefactor to playing with Ball’s uptempo, pass-first style than Julius Randle, who should be a force in transition for the Lakers. That’s one of the reasons Randle’s been hard at work at achieving the fitness goals he and the Lakers’ front office laid out in his exit interview.
Randle watched Lonzo during summer league and thinks his new running mate “looked great” in Las Vegas. Julius joined Lakers Talk with Allen Sliwa on ESPN LA 710 and delved into plenty of topics, including Ball.
“As far as Lonzo, he looked great. Everybody’s saying it but I can’t say it enough, you know, he makes the game easier for everybody. At the point guard position, you obviously can get your shot whenever you want to, but he’s always looking to make the easy play, the right play for other players and get them going and it works for him as well.
So, you know, it’s a contagious way he plays and I think it’s going to be great for our team,” Randle said of Ball.
Randle’s now watched one franchise point guard and young teammate come and go in Russell, and offered up this advice to Ball as he enters his rookie season.
“Just lock in. Everybody’s going to have an opinion, everybody’s going to have advice or say what he should do or what he shouldn’t, but, I would say the biggest thing is to stay close to coach. He’s got to be an extension of him on the floor.
You know, just to stay locked in on what he’s got to do to get better. Just stay in the gym, watch film or whatever it is. You do that and block all the outside noise, he’ll be fine,” Randle said.
Considering much of the noise regarding why D’Angelo Russell was traded circled around what was perceived as his lack of commitment, an being “aloof” in general, this advice seems very sound from Randle.
The Lakers very clearly wanted someone more “focused” on basketball than Russell was, looking for more of what can be best described in Los Angeles as the #MambaMentality. Randle’s shown all signs of being incredibly dedicated to basketball, making it a clear priority in everything he does.
There’s a pretty good chance Lonzo will be totally zoned into his work in the NBA. History tells us he’s spent his entire life incredibly focused on just basketball, perhaps best exemplified in a profile on the Ball family from 2015 with a local Inland Empire paper (via Michelle Gardner, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin):
Asked the last time his family went on a trip or vacation that didn’t involve basketball, Chino Hills High School senior Lonzo Ball took a long pause. He couldn’t come up with an answer.
To say he is part of a basketball-playing family is an understatement...
LaVar Ball had an answer to that question about the last time his family had a vacation that didn’t involve basketball.
“Never,” he said. ”This is our fun.”
That whole article is worth a read for some interesting tidbits on the middle stages of what would ultimately lead Lonzo to being drafted by the Lakers. The focus has always been there, and that’s certainly one of the reasons Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are putting their faith into him.