Los Angeles Lakers Young Core: All Eyes on Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball
WASHINGTON, USA - NOVEMBER 09: Otto Porter Jr. (C) of the Washington Wizards in action against Lonzo Ball (2) of the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA Game between Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers at Capitol One Arena in Washington, United States on November 09, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Heavily scrutinized before, during, and after his rookie season, point guard Lonzo Ball is expected to play a key role for the Los Angeles Lakers this upcoming season. Ball won’t be the headline act anymore, but his role is still just as important. The Lakers are now LeBron James‘ team. This will benefit Ball, as the second-year guard can now focus purely on his game. The 2018-19 NBA season will be the most important of his career so far, so here’s what the talented guard has to do to meet hefty expectations.

Los Angeles Lakers Young Core: All Eyes on Lonzo Ball

Get healthy

Before Ball can focus on anything else, he has to get healthy. Suffering a minor knee injury in January, the No. 2 overall pick played just 52 games in his rookie year. Ball also missed the final eight games of the season and recently underwent knee surgery. The former UCLA Bruin is expected to be ready for training camp.

Ball struggled with persistent injuries all season. Similar to Brandon Ingram, this isn’t a good sign going forward. However, the Lakers have made changes to combat these issues. Ball is now organizing his own workouts. The team hopes this change, along with a couple of roster moves, will help Ball stay healthy long-term. Averaging 34 minutes per game, Ball was relied upon to do a lot for the team last season. This is expected to change after the team’s recent moves.

Fewer minutes

There have been more than a few changes in Los Angeles. The arrival of superstar LeBron James triggered massive changes to the team’s roster. The key move was the addition of point guard Rajon Rondo, especially for Ball. Not only is Rondo a huge upgrade at backup point guard, but he’ll also take some of the pressure off Ball. One of the biggest problems last season was Ball demanding too much from himself. This season, he will play less, which will decrease his chances of injury. When you try to score, create, rebound, and block shots for 35 minutes a night, you’re asking for trouble. Especially as a rookie.

Related: How Rajon Rondo Will Contribute to Lonzo Ball’s Success

The obvious addition that will also benefit Ball is, of course, James. James is known for making those around him better. He and Ball should help each other this upcoming season. James is uniquely talented and is expected to handle the ball plenty, which will help everyone on the team. It appears the Lakers’ front office has done it’s utmost to help Ball succeed in his second season. One key area Ball must improve is shooting the ball. This could be the difference between a good or great season.

Develop a consistent three-ball

Averaging 7.2 assists last season, Ball can already pass at an All-Star level. His 88 blocks made him top-three among point guards in blocks per game. Only John Wall and Ben Simmons had more. Ball is also a good rebounder, averaging 6.9 per game last season. He takes care of the ball and is strong at the defensive end. However, some chose to judge Ball simply on his poor shooting. He didn’t shoot the ball well, sure. But there’s more to a player than just his shooting percentages. This will be the key for Ball moving forward.

Ball doesn’t have to be an elite shooter; he just has to be consistent. Shooting the ball won’t make or break his season, but it will help the team a great deal. Ball aims to get stronger during the off-season, which should help him when driving to the basket. At times last season, Ball would bounce off his defender when attacking the rim. As for shooting the three-ball, Ball should take fewer shots. He needs to know his strengths and weaknesses. Ball shot on average 5.7 threes per game last season. Rondo averaged just 2.3 and James shot 4.1 threes per game.

Expect Lonzo Ball to play a key role this season. He has the skill-set to take advantage of the players around him. If he can stay healthy, Ball should play a big role in helping the Lakers make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

 

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