Despite the increased expectations that come with playing alongside LeBron James, Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball says the 33-year-old's arrival in Los Angeles has made life "a little easier."
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During Ball's rookie season with the Lakers in 2017/18, the team went 35-47, with plenty of scrutiny aimed at Ball has he attempted to live up to the lofty expectations that came with being the #2 pick in the draft.
With James signing a four-year, $153.3 million contract this off-season, Ball says he is happy with the spotlight being absorbed by #23.
"I would say it takes pressure off of me and the rest of the young guys," Ball recently 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."
"That's just how it is playing with (James)," Ball added. "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."
Last season Ball's progress was interrupted by injuries, limiting him to just 50 games, where he averaged 10.2 points per game, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds, shooting 36% from the field.
"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."
While his numbers were decent in his first season, they perhaps didn't meet the lofty expectations, he and others had placed on him. Now playing a complimentary role alongside James, Ball is figuring out how to play without the ball in his hands, something that he is getting used to.
"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 are a much-improved 19-14 on the season so far, sitting fourth in the Western Conference and the spotlight will be shining bright on Christmas Day, with a star-studded matchup against the Golden State Warriors on the road.