Philippines, 29 May 2024
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Ball impresses Walton ?. but for how long?

Lonzo Ball practiced in full on Thursday for the first time for the Los Angeles Lakers since the team opened training camp and looked to have impressed head coach Luke Walton no end.

A day later, Walton was heard praising Ball for looking so good, Lakers? writer Mike Trudell reported.

Ball underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that sidelined him at times last season.

?I was shocked how good he looked the last 2 days as far as his feel for the game and getting out and competing,? Walton, sounding very impressed and pleased with how good Ball looked given he didn?t play all offseason, was quoted as saying.

?You couldn?t tell he was out,? the Lakers? head bench tactician, added.

Ball is unlikely to play in the team?s preseason opener, but the praises he got are positive signs for the Lakers considering he hasn?t been able to do full-on training.

Ball was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft and had a shaky rookie season. Not only was he limited to 52 games because of his knee, but he experienced shooting woes, making just 36 percent of his field goals and 45.1 percent of his free throws.

Those are numbers he needs to show vast improvement on if he wants to be an impact player in the league.

During the pre-training camp period, it was reported Ball was undergoing mentorship from Rajon Rondo, former New Orleans point guard, although not quite a few observers expressed doubts what good it was because, at best, the latter is known to be a vinyl record player.

You can think back fondly at a time when his skillset meshed well with the way NBA basketball was played. You can make him your point guard, and reminisce about a time when Garnetts and Pierces and Allens were still a thing. And if the vibe is just right, he still gets the job done.

The point being that ?the next Rajon Rondo? is not something a young NBA player should aspire to be. A short point guard who can?t shoot, dribbles the ball relentlessly, and can?t really defend without resorting to dirty tricks that modern NBA referees have little patience for is neither the current formula for championship success nor the secret to upending it.

And yet when Rob Pelinka signed Rondo last July he claimed, ?We brought in the right mentor? for Lonzo Ball.

For Rondo, this is great. It gives him a bare minimum of one role and a purpose he serves on a high profile team. But what will it mean for Ball?

The similarities between the two are clear: They both have tremendous court vision and an awesome ability to act on that vision with passes very few players have the precision and reaction time to make. Those are skills that will always have value in the NBA.

Ironically enough though, they will rank second and third in players with that skillset on their own team. No player in the NBA currently has better vision and passing skills than LeBron James.

Being a teammate of LeBron James means finding out how you can best help LeBron James. Any other way of looking at it will result in less wins. The timeline by which you have to find that out is unknown, but the clock is always ticking.

Even Dwyane Wade lasted only half a season with Cleveland. What?s so scary for Ball about his potential mentor is that Rondo already is expendable. The Lakers are his sixth team in six years. If it works, it works. If not, he?ll start getting ready for the 2019 mutiny he?ll end up leading against whoever Orlando?s coach is at that point.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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