Should We Be More Worried About Lonzo Ball?

It’s remarkable how much pressure Lonzo has already played under. Some of it self- or family-inflicted (I did start this blog talking about a Facebook reality show), some of it by circumstance. He entered the league as the no. 2 overall selection handpicked by Magic Johnson to bring one the most storied franchises, and Ball’s hometown team, back to glory. Every minute of his early games were picked apart because of all of the noise his father made in the media. Now, he somehow faces more pressure. Along with LeBron, the Lakers also signed Rajon Rondo this summer. Though Rondo is 32 and has struggled to remain relevant since leaving Boston, he’s coming off a breakthrough season when he helped push the Pelicans, and Anthony Davis, to another level. It’s hard to imagine that he left New Orleans just to serve as Ball’s mentor.

In retrospect, the addition of Rondo seems more like a Lonzo contingency plan. The Lakers plucked Rondo out of NOLA for $9 million, to the befuddlement of pretty much everyone. If Ball’s status for camp or for the start of the season is in doubt, or if the risk of reinjury is increased, the one-year deal for a steady hand at point guard makes a lot more sense. Rondo brings a lot of the things Ball does to the table, without the learning curve. The Lakers won’t miss a beat if they decide to give him the lion’s share of the minutes at the 1.

It’s interesting that the Lakers’ first season with LeBron has been framed as a trial run. Let the kids grow, wait to sign Kawhi Leonard next summer, and go for it in 2019-20. But for all the talk of patience—which, for what it’s worth, is what LeBron sold right before the Cavs traded for Kevin Love, too—one serious injury could alter their timeline.

This is LeBron’s show now.