The absence of LeBron James and Rajon Rondo has forced the Los Angeles Lakers to rely almost solely on their young core to be the creators on offense.
Much of that responsibility has fallen to Lonzo Ball who has had the ball in his hands far more often and is taking advantage of it. In the Lakers’ first two games without LeBron, Ball has averaged 19.5 points and nine assists, being far more aggressive overall offensively.
Working as the primary facilitator means that Ball has worked more in the pick-and-roll recently. “We want him to continue to grow that part of his game,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton noted. “He’s made a big jump so far this season in the games we’ve played.
“As far as do we want to just run pick-and-roll every time? No, but we want him in pick-and-rolls a lot, getting downhill, feeling the bigs, making those decisions in traffic. Because we believe in his size, ability and feel for the game that he can be a special, special pick-and-roll type of player. We’ve just got to get him more reps with it.”
One of the reasons Ball has been more successful recently is his aggression. Ball being more willing to attack the basket, and improving his finishing at the rim, makes him far more difficult to guard as teams can no longer just play him to pass.
Lonzo figuring out the right balance between shooting and passing is difficult, but will only come with more reps. Obviously, Ball’s role will change once James returns.
But gaining that confidence will be huge for him as this season continues and he will be more likely to keep up this level of play when James is healthy.
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