Lonzo Ball is in his second season with the Lakers. The team, however, is completely different in 2018-19.
The Lakers struggled during Ball’s rookie season. But they improved drastically when they signed superstar LeBron James to a four-year, $153.3 million contract this summer.
Ball discussed sharing the court with James in a recent interview with The Athletic.
“I would say it takes pressure off of me and the rest of the young guys,” Ball told The Athletic. “Obviously you have LeBron, the best player in the world, all the attention is on him. A lot of the wins and losses are targeted towards him.
“I know he’s dealt with that his whole career so he’s fine with it. But myself, it’s taken the spotlight off a little bit, just making things a little easier for me.”
Ball had an up-and-down first season in the NBA after Los Angeles selected him out of UCLA with the second pick in the 2017 draft. He was limited to 50 games because of injuries and tallied 10.2 points per appearance while shooting just 36 percent from the floor.
“Every team I played for, I pretty much been the dude on it,” Ball said. “Picked second, I was supposed to come in and impact the franchise right from the jump.”
With James on the team, Ball has played more of a complimentary role this season. He’s averaging nine points and 4.8 assists in 29.1 minutes per game.
“That’s just how it is playing with (James),” Ball said. “Obviously if you do dumb stuff, it’s going to show up like any other player, but most of it’s always towards him, that’s just how it is. Best player in the league, best player on our team.”
Ball said he has had to adjust to playing off the ball.
“I’ve never really had to move without the ball my whole life as far as setting screens and cutting like that,” Ball said. “So, trying to get better at that, trying to get better at catch-and-shoot.
“Growing up, a lot of my shots came off of me dribbling and shooting it. Trying to get the catch-and-shoot down and go from there.”
The Lakers will face the Warriors in Golden State on Tuesday. They’ll enter that matchup with a 19-14 record.