Lonzo Ball has been high profile this summer.
He’s leading the Lakers to the Summer League title. He — along with his father LaVar and the rest of the family — are the focus of a new “Ball in the Family” reality series streaming on Facebook. He’s even dropping some rhymes.
But he’s also in the gym daily getting his body and game ready for the season. He’s been working out with the other young player the Lakers hope is a cornerstone of their future, Brandon Ingram.
“Brandon’s in the gym every day and works extremely hard,” Ball told NBCSports.com. “I didn’t know he’s as vocal as he is. He definitely talks a lot. Speaking for myself, I definitely appreciate it, everything he does for the team. Like I said he’s in there every day so we’re just getting to know each other more and more as the days go on and I look forward to playing with him this year.”
Same is true of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a young two-way player the Lakers snapped up when the Pistons couldn’t reach a deal with him and moved on this summer.
“I have (worked out with him), I definitely like his game a lot,” Ball said. “he plays hard, and he plays on both sides of the ball. I like his game a lot, a true competitor… He plays defense but he’s a very capable scorer as well. Just based on my experience playing with him he’s great in transition, great athlete, and he can shoot.”
As for what Ball is focused on, it starts with getting stronger to be ready for the marathon grind of the NBA season.
“Strength, because I’m going against men every night,” Ball told NBC of what Luke Walton told him to work on after Summer League. “But the biggest thing on the court was probably ball screens, playing point guard ball screens is a big part of the game, especially in today’s game. So he definitely put a lot of emphasis on that.”
That’s in the halfcourt (and early in the clock, expect a lot of drag screens from the Lakers this year where a center trailing the transition play, such as Brook Lopez, stops out high and sets a screen for Ball). What the Lakers are really counting on from Ball is to change their style of play, as he did the Summer League team, by pushing the ball and making the Lakers a transition team.
“Luke Walton wants to play fast and I feel like the NBA is becoming a faster game every year,” Ball said. “The way I play, getting my teammates the ball, just doing whatever I can to help the team win. I feel like I’m different than the some of the point guards the NBA is used to, but I feel I can still be effective.”
In Summer League he didn’t pick up the team’s pace because he was fast up the court with the ball, but rather because he had his head up and passed the ball ahead to guys running the floor, which got Kyle Kuzma and others some easy buckets.
“From a young age that’s one of the first things my dad taught me, the ball always travels faster than a person,” Ball said. “I mean, I don’t find it necessary to dribble up the court if you can kick it ahead for an easier bucket. Especially in less time. So it just makes more sense to me to kick it up.”
In a couple of weeks, Ball will be kicking it up in Lakers training camp. The “Ball in the Family” cameras are not going to be following him there much, the reality show will focus more on him after practice and the Ball family life. What Ball wants people to see is what he has always seen — his father can be bombastic, but there’s much more to his personality.
“I think they’re already seeing it because I get a lot of feedback on the show, and a lot more people are seeing the person that he really is,” Ball said. “I’m happy for him, I’m happy people get to see the person I have known my whole life.”