Lonzo Ball has not yet found a rhythm playing with LeBron James — in the 145 minutes those two have been on the court this season (small sample size alert) the Lakers are getting outscored by 5.3 points per 100 possessions. Ball should provide defense, shooting, and a secondary ball handler who will push the pace with LeBron, but just like so many players before him Ball is finding the sacrifices and challenges of playing with LeBron a big adjustment some nights.
Like against the Timberwolves Monday, when he finished with just four points, one assist, and one rebound. When his offensive game wasn’t going early, Ball did not work hard on cuts off the ball, didn’t bring energy at either end, and just kind of floated through the game.
Tuesday Ball admitted he needs to do better, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
“I just got to rebound the ball, get engaged, more energy, just do what I can to get myself going,” Ball said Tuesday.
“Just not doing my job,” Ball said.
Ball did miss most of training camp recovering from left meniscus surgery, and while he won’t admit it that is part of what is happening.
But part of it is adjusting to playing with LeBron is hard, especially for a guy who likes to be a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Just ask Kyrie Irving or Dwyane Wade or Kevin Love or Chris Bosh or a host of other guys who have been in these shoes. Players have to learn how to sacrifice and adjust, and that is far more mental than physical. Lonzo played off the ball a lot and very effectively at UCLA, he has the skill set and the game, but it’s different.
Brandon Ingram is having the same issue (although he had 24 points Monday). Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, who play more as finishers, have adjusted more quickly. It’s all going to be a sink-or-swim process with the Lakers and it’s far too early to make any calls (except for Hart, he’s a keeper). Ball is just struggling more publicly with it all right now.