Magic Johnson Challenges Lonzo Ball With ‘Biggest Offseason’ Of His Life

“Basically it’s just the biggest summer of my life,” said Ball of the message delivered by Johnson and Lakers general manager during his exit interview.

“It’s time to transition now from rookie year to sophomore year. I’m looking forward to it, ready to put in the work and get after it. I think it’s exciting. For somebody like Magic and Rob to tell me that, pretty much tells me they believe in me.

One specific area Johnson wants to see growth from Ball is on the offensive side of the court. While the organization relishes in Ball’s playmaking ability, his affinity for passing at times hindered the offense because defenses could predetermine his decision.
Johnson described it as Ball needing to become more ‘selfish.’ “He has to look to score,” Johnson said. “He has to also develop a couple more shots. A floater, on and on and on, midrange. It was a good meeting yesterday, and a tough meeting.”

Another area of emphasis for the quiet 20-year-old is establishing more of a vocal presence on the court. “When you’re the point guard you have to be able to say, ‘Hey man, that was a bad shot. Or hey, we need you to step your game up.’ He’s got to do that now in the fourth quarter,” Johnson explained.

“This year, of course, he was a rookie, rolled with the punches and didn’t say too much. Next season, I told him he can’t do that. He’s got to step up into that leadership role. And when they’re not playing defense, he’s got to say it. Or if we need a big stop, he has to say it. He doesn’t have to change who he is and talk all the time, because that’s phony. But in crucial moments of the game, he has to say something.”

Adding muscle to his thin frame is also a priority. Johnson made it clear the Lakers need Ball and Brandon Ingram to play more games than they did this season — 52 and 59, respectively.

The Lakers expect Ball to spend a lion’s share of the summer working on different facets of his game, but it’s not something they will force. “He’s got his family, got a daughter on the way, so he’s got all sorts of things pulling on him,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “As a player, it’s important that you prioritize. What that is, is different for everyone.