Lonzo Ball had his one-and-only pre-NBA Draft workout with the Lakers Wednesday, and everything appears to have gone well. In fact, Ball is already talking like he’ll be D’Angelo Russell’s replacement in Los Angeles.
“They have a lot of good players. I just think they need a leader at point guard. I feel I can bring that to the team,” he told the media after his workout.
While he didn’t mention Russell by name, it’s easy to see that as a shot at him. After all, Russell was the No. 2 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft and he is a point guard. While Russell’s leadership skills can be questioned, many see the point guard position in Los Angeles as occupied.
So what can we draw from Ball’s comments? He could see Russell as someone who doesn’t compete with him, but the more likely scenario is he’s echoing comments he heard from the front office. He had met with team president Magic Johnson, coach Luke Walton and general manager Rob Pelinka and the impression he came away with was that they’re still looking for a leader.
Ball on message from Magic/RP/Luke: “Come in and be a leader … they were very positive. They just wanted to know what kind of person I am.“
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 7, 2017
It’s also important to keep in mind Russell recently liked an anti-Lonzo Ball tweet. The harmless action could mean nothing, but we can’t discount it entirely.
Even if Ball wasn’t taking a shot at Russell, the takeaway is that the Lakers will need to shift how the team operates currently. Maybe Russell switches over to shooting guard instead, which is something Walton experimented with at the end of last season.
“Whatever position they have me on the court — I’m a basketball player, not a point guard or a shooting guard,” Russell said in March.
If Russell can become more of an off the ball guard, he’d actually compliment Ball really well. The NBA Draft prospect seemed to agree, saying Wednesday, “They’re young, I’m young, they like to run, I like to young, I think we work well together.”
Ball’s comments either indicate the team is ready to move on with Russell, or the more likely scenario, they’re ready to change his game. This all, of course, is assuming the Lakers even take Ball with the No. 2 pick, which isn’t a guarantee. But if they do, expect some change in Los Angeles.