Throughout the season so far, one of the major themes around the Los Angeles Lakers has been the way LeBron James and Rajon Rondo have mentored Lonzo Ball.
James has spoken at length about how valuable Ball is even when he’s not scoring, and stayed in Ball’s ear to make sure the young point guard knows how good he is. Rondo has watched film with Ball — and other young players — as well as yelling at Ball to motivate him during practices, even while Rondo is sidelined.
Ball is appreciative of both players’ approaches.
“Those are two of the best leaders I’ve ever played with in my life,” Ball told reporters after the Lakers’ 90-83 win over the Utah Jazz.
James has urged Ball to stay aggressive, saying that the Lakers are never better than when Ball and Brandon Ingram try to create opportunities for themselves. Ball said Rondo has been telling him the same thing.
“I just play better like that. (Rondo) is always on me to try and get to the rim, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” Ball said.
That new approach has led to some of Ball’s strongest games of the season, emphasizing the value of having the veteran leadership of players that the young core grew up watching inside the locker room. It’s one thing for Ball and the rest of the Lakers’ youngsters to hear this stuff from their coaching staff, or from the other veterans the Lakers had around last season, but as Ball said, “it’s a lot different” when that advice is coming from the mouths of players that he grew up idolizing.
“I cherish the moments I have with them and try to learn as much as I can,” Ball said.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.