Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton says that the team has seen “six to ten” of its players in the gym every day during the offseason, something he called “incredible.” Contributing to those workouts every day for the past week has been rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who has now bowed out as he heads to Hawaii for a vacation, according to Chris Palmer of Spectrum Sportsnet.
Between being named MVP of Las Vegas Summer League for his role while helping guide the Lakers to a title in the desert and his time working out with his teammates, Ball has had plenty of time to impress those around the organization. It sounds like he’s taken advantage of it, as Palmer reports “Ball has impressed teammates with his work ethic, commitment and humility.”
Or, as one player put it more simply to Palmer: “You just like being around him.”
These are exactly the types of qualities that make Ball so impressive, intangibles that scouts, analysts, coaches and everyone else in between have cited since the early days of draft coverage. It’s the type of stuff (besides his obvious and substantial skills) that make Lakers president Magic Johnson call him “the new face of the Lakers” and cite how much players will want to play with him during his introductory press conference.
All this stuff is what was expected from Ball, but what’s notable about Palmer’s report is that Ball is actually doing it. It’s never a guarantee that prospects live up to the hype they get heading into the draft, and Ball seems to be doing so both with his play on the court and the types of things players and coaches are saying about him off of it.
None of those intangibles will mean much unless Ball is able to become the type of “transcendent” talent the Lakers hope he can be, but if his on and off the court gifts are both as valuable as they appear to be, the Lakers have a truly special player on their hands as their new front office regime begins its rebuild in earnest.