Heading into this season, the absolute top question around the Los Angeles Lakers was whether LeBron James would have enough patience with the young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Despite a 2-4 start, so far, so good.
In an appearance on “The Woj Pod” with Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst of ESPN addressed the experiment to this point, and it sounds like LeBron’s a fan of one young teammate in particular (h/t Christian Rivas of Lonzo Wire):
“(LeBron) really likes Lonzo. He likes his mentality, his makeup.”
Lonzo and LeBron have a ton in common. Both guys garnered insane coverage at early ages for their incredible gifts on the basketball court, and both have great minds for the game of basketball and approach it in very similar ways. Hell, neither of them could shoot their rookie years, even.
With that in mind, it really makes sense that James would like what he sees from Ball.
If the Lakers are to reach their potential — not only this year, but over the course of James’ tenure with the franchise — Ball and James are going to have to figure out ways to make it work on the court on a consistent basis.
Optimists will point to the stretches where they’ve looked great together, but the NBA’s 82-game season is all about consistency, and it just isn’t there yet, which is something James noted while simultaneously praising how good Ball can be when he’s aggressive:
“He’s got some of the quickest hands that this league has. I think a lot of people try to discredit what he can do offensively, but they don’t give him enough credit for what he does defensively,” James told reporters, although he wasn’t knocking what Ball showed offensively, either.
“He’s a very gifted basketball player. A very cerebral basketball player. When he’s aggressive and thinking shot first, everything else opens up for him,” James said. “It just opens up everything for our ball club, and he was great again tonight.”
But going back to the report, this is the kind of thing Lakers fans should want to hear from someone as plugged into James’ camp as Windhorst has always been, given how important James and Ball learning to work together is for the team’s future. This was always going to take time, but with quotes like these, James seems to think Ball is worth the investment.
He’s absolutely right.