Late in Thursday night’s Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Indiana Pacers, a miracle occurred. The game was on the line, time was dwindling, the team needed a win, Lonzo Ball was on the court, and the world didn’t implode. Crazy, fascinating stuff, really.
LeBron James was impressed by what he saw last night, and what he’s noticed over the course of his first season playing alongside the second-year rookie.
“Zo is a unique basketball player where him putting the ball in the hole doesn’t define what he does out on the floor or the impact that he makes,” James told reporters after the game.
“If you’re able to see him make an impact without scoring the ball then you’re a complete basketball player and that’s what he is. He’s still getting guys involved, he’s still rebounding, he’s still getting steals, and he’s still engaged in what’s going on on the floor,” James continued before adding “tremendous game for (Ball).”
[sniff, sniff] [blink, blink]
No you’re crying.
This is by no means the first time this point has been made, nor will it be the last, but if Lonzo’s shot ever does come around consistently, he could really be the perfect point guard to put next to James. His ability to play off the ball and wreak havoc defensively — leading to potential transition opportunities — makes him invaluable, especially if the Lakers successfully add another superstar to the roster this summer.
Walton finding ways to keep Lonzo engaged (screens, handing over the keys in transition, etc.) combined with James’ continued compliments and calls for consistent aggressiveness is a huge development for not only Ball himself, but the entire Lakers organization.
If Ball shows over the duration of this season that he belongs on the court alongside James, and whoever the Lakers add over the next couple summers, the Lakers become that much more flexible with how they can address this roster. For just this season, though, here’s hoping Ball can continue to impress James and Walton enough to earn more late-game opportunities. He’s simply too talented to be on the bench in those situations.