After taking L.A. by storm in his one year at UCLA, Lonzo Ball is now ready to show the city what he can do at the professional level.
The journey starts on Friday, as Ball will make his Lakers debut at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Ball’s mission is simple: “Win the whole thing.”
It will be Ball’s first competitive game in four months, and Lakers fans will surely pack Thomas & Mack Center for an initial look at the First Team All-American turned second-overall draft pick.
Ball’s teammates are just as excited. Brandon Ingram, who was drafted at that same spot the year before, is one of the many Lakers who expect to benefit from Ball’s renowned passing abilities.
“I think he’s gonna create a lot of easy shots for the wing players and, of course, the bigs,” Ingram said.
While all eyes will be on Ball, Ingram will be the one leading the purple and gold in Vegas.
Summer League head coach Jud Buechler said that Ingram has taken a larger, more vocal leadership role this offseason.
“This is his team this summer to be in charge of,” Buechler said.
In terms of his game, Ingram has spent the summer adjusting his jump shot with assistant coach Brian Keefe.
Ingram will play the first three games of Summer League, but perhaps not the whole tournament.
At that point, the Lakers will look one locker over to Ball, who has also put in work since he was drafted last month.
“I’ve just been in the weight room working on my craft every day,” Ball said. “It’s a job, so you’ve got to perfect it.”
Ball’s teammates are interested to see what he can do for their games, including center Ivica Zubac, who plans to let it fly from 3-point range at Summer League.
But the coaching staff is more focused on the other side of the ball.
Buechler praised the defensive aggression of 30th pick Josh Hart and returning Laker David Nwaba.
Still, he feels that the team gave up far too many open layups last year, and thinks that Summer League could help set the tone for a better regular season.
“We were 30th in defense last year,” Buechler said. “That has to change, and that has to change right now.”