Welcome to Lakers Lair Three-Man Weave, a subjective Lakers-related column where our resident Laker fans answer a series of questions regarding the Purple & Gold. With the D’Angelo Russell era in the rearview mirror, the Lakers now have Big Baller Visions in mind with the drafting of Lonzo Ball. This edition will be centered around what Ball can bring to the franchise. Our participants are:
1. True or False: Lonzo Ball will prove to be more impactful in his first two years for the Lakers than D’Angelo Russell was.
Soaries: True. Unfortunately for Russell’s case, Ball is going to have the advantage of Magic Johnson’s tutelage. D’Angelo’s rookie season was Kobe’s last season, so there’s that. Lonzo is set up to have much more impact based on the circumstances, including the fact that the Lakers should be closer to being competitive again.
Cortes: Yes, but it won’t be a knock on Russell’s talent, rather the opportunity between the two guards. Like Martin alluded to, Magic seems to be going all in Lonzo Ball while Russell was never really given a fair hand ever since getting drafted into the league. Lonzo will have the advantage of being mentored by Magic Johnson while Russell dealt with many distractions early in his NBA career.
Allen: True. Lonzo Ball will benefit from there being a system and a bit of consistency in place that D’Angelo didn’t have. He came in and dealt with the Kobe tour and then a new coach/system the following year. Ball doesn’t have those factors to deal with. Everything is in place and all he has to do is come in and get acquainted so I see his first two years going much more smoothly.
2. On a scale of 1-10, how big of a fan are you of Los Angeles’ non-Lonzo Ball draft picks?
Soaries: 8. I loved the Josh Hart pick. I thought he’d be a steal for the Spurs or someone in the second round. He may not be a star but he can become the kind of player that you can’t win without. I also like the Kyle Kuzma pick. I think these are the kind of young players we want as added projects to what we have brewing with Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and now Lonzo Ball.
Cortes: 10. LA’s job at drafting during this solid draft made me feel a little better about them trading D’Angelo Russell. They were able to get Kyle Kuzma who dominated the NBA combine scrimmages and has an extremely versatile game. LA also acquired Josh Hart, who is an absolute competitor that can knock down shots and play strong defense on the other end. Thomas Bryant was also a great pick considering he’s still 19 even after two college seasons, has a 7’6 wingspan, and can stretch the floor for the Lakers. Great, great draft by Los Angeles.
Allen: I’m going to say an 8 as well. I think they filled out the holes sufficiently adding two inside guys and an all-around guard. One thing that I’m excited about is that we added some solid shooting as well. Josh Hart is known for his scoring ability and being able to knock down outside shots. But now with Thomas Bryant, we have a guy who can be effective in the pick and pop game and force defenders to come out to contest and open the paint up inside.
3. What’s the No. 1 thing you’ll be monitoring about Lonzo Ball’s game during Summer League?
Soaries: Comfortability, activity, and finding his spots to impact the game on both ends. I want to see how his feel translates and how aggressive he is making plays and being an activator.
Cortes: His command for the game and how he’ll get the Lakers playing together as a unit. Magic Johnson raved about Lonzo’s leadership and court vision during Lonzo’s press conference and how well he makes his teammates better. We saw it at UCLA and in Chino Hills (if you watched Lonzo that early), now we expect to see the same kind of leadership at the next level, even if it’s just the Summer League.
Allen: The thing I’m looking at is his aggression. All we’ve been hearing about is how he can get others involved and act as a playmaker so I’m curious to see how much he will be willing to create for others. In comparison, I want to see how often he looks for his shot as well. The Lakers need scorers and if they’re going to win games, he’s going to have to be a big part of that. So his scoring-passing balance along with his aggression are things I’m looking to see during Summer League and the upcoming season.
4. Which Lakers players game will see the biggest benefit playing next to Lonzo this season?
Soaries: Julius Randle. Having Ball assume facilitation duties will ease the burden of Randle having to be a playmaker, a role which he struggled in at times last season.
Cortes: Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle/Larry Nance Jr. will benefit the most from Lonzo Ball. Lonzo’s supreme court vision will allow Ingram and Randle/Nance Jr. to fill the lanes and get receive the ball easily for easy baskets thanks to Lonzo’s ability to find his teammates. #DunkCity?
Allen: I think Nance Jr, Randle, and Zubac are going to be the biggest beneficiaries from Ball’s game. I visualize a lot of dump-offs on drives and some needle-threading passes in the pick-and-roll game in this upcoming season. If he can get into the paint and create havoc, these guys will get a lot of dunks this season because the defenders will react and he’s not going to hesitate to make the right pass.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 23, 2017
5. Do you think Lonzo is equipped to lead the Lakers and handle the immense pressure that will be placed on him from day one?
Soaries: I don’t know if anyone is ever really equipped for that right away. Is he built for it? I think he could be considering all of the attention that’s been on him thus far. Lonzo has a lackadaisical demeanor about him, which has worked as a critique of his game. I’m not sure if that demeanor works for or against him as he inherits the reigns of the Lakers franchise.
Cortes: I believe so because he has always had that pressure even before he got drafted thanks to LaVar Ball. Lonzo like he said, has just always learned to internalize those things and it should be able to translate well to the NBA. Lonzo is a winner, and he’ll look to do the same for the franchise that wants nothing but that.
Allen: I can’t really say because that’s something that we won’t know until we see him take the court. Already being donned the face of the franchise, the Lakers, combined with the words of the LaVar Ball, will have everyone watching to see what’s going to come from Lonzo. His game is going to be scrutinized heavily and his every move will be critiqued. However, he seems so humble and laid back that I don’t know if any of that will bother him. It’s hard to say what the outcome will be but all I know is that I can’t wait.