LeBron James Thinks Lonzo Ball ‘Doesn’t Realize How Great He Is’

LeBron James follows behind Lonzo Ball on the basketball court.
Harry How / Getty Images

Lonzo Ball put on a fairly decent performance to help the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz on Friday night, November 23. But to LeBron James, what little he did contribute was only a sample size of what great things may come, should the former second overall draft pick eventually realize his potential.

According to data recorded under the game’s box score on NBA.com, Ball just missed putting up double-digit points, with him scoring nine points total in the 90-83 victory. And in addition to being the only starting Lakers player without a steal, his two assists were particularly dismal. However, the 10 rebounds that he grabbed tied him up with LeBron for the most on either team, and more than anything, showed that Ball was active in holding down at least one facet of the home-court match-up.

Although a 9/2/10 stat-line is all that a LeBron James-anchored Lakers team might need from Ball, it definitely won’t hush the ‘bust’ whispers that have followed him since he entered the league facing expectations set high for him by the likes of the L.A. Times. The way LeBron sees it though, with the physical and instinctive attributes Ball possesses — to go along with the skill set he’s got at his disposal — a little bit of added confidence ought to take him a long way.

“Sometimes he doesn’t realize how great he is,” LeBron told ESPN‘s Dave McMenamin after Los Angeles extended its winning streak to three games with Friday’s outcome. “The things that he possesses out on the floor, when Zo realizes how good he is on the floor, it makes him a very dynamic player and it makes us even better. And he’s been doing that as of late, [with] his aggressiveness,” he said.

To LeBron’s point, Ball’s recent success suggests that either his efficiency is having a positive impact on the team or vice versa. As Bleacher Report notes in an article that it has published on LeBron’s remarks, Ball has hit 11 of his last 21 shots for a combined 24 points. In the two previous games, he only made one more attempt, shooting 22 times — but sinking less than half of the baskets that he hit against the Cavs and Jazz, with a meager five. Thus, the signs are present to indicate that Ball may be gaining traction towards the ends that LeBron predicts will come with a more assertive approach. But he has yet to prove whether he can remain efficient on a consistent basis.

Ultimately, whether increasing his offensive output will eventually translate into elite play for Ball remains to be seen. If one thing’s for sure, having the greatest player of his era put a battery in his back certainly won’t hurt chances that such a future might manifest.