Lakers guard Lonzo Ball: 'I’m one of the best defenders on the team'

Lonzo Ball said he’s doing what he can to be a top defender.

The Lakers point guard played only 24 minutes in Friday’s 119-105 win over the Warriors, but he disrupted the flow of Golden State.

“I think I’m one of the best defenders on the team,” Ball said, via the Los Angeles Times. “So when you’re guarding some other team’s best players, especially if they are guards, just try to make their jobs as hard as I can.”

Ball averaged 1.7 steals per game last season, which is ninth in the NBA among guards who played more than 30 games.

“He is big on versatility and switching lineups,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “He has great instincts and deflections. All the things that we harp on every day and what we want to do as a defensive unit. As far as doing that as a rookie, surprised me. It is a tough position to play, but we knew early on he was going to be able to cause the turnovers for us and guard multiple positions. It was good to see while he was healthy that he was able to maintain that.”

Ball also said he gained 20 pounds of muscle during the offseason and has bulked up his upper body, which will help him defend better.

Friday’s victory was only Ball’s second preseason game he played in, which impressed his teammates that he was able to have such an easy transition back.

“I don’t know how he does it,” teammate Kyle Kuzma said. “He didn’t do nothing all summer, practiced for the first time last week or whatever. He was running up and down, great physical shape, so I think he did great for the most part.”

The Lakers’ regular-season play opens Thursday against the Trail Blazers.