EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – While LeBron James and Rajon Rondo continue to slowly walk to the court, Lonzo Ball is attempting to fill the huge left-wing lead of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nowhere as vocal as James, Rondo and veteran Tyson Chandler, Ball wants to try to set the example first and then be vocal when necessary.
"It's just a big void to fill in," Ball said. "LeBron and Rondo are undoubtedly two of the best leaders of all time, having the two out, are two of our top guys who are talking on the court. [Brandon Ingram]. Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] probably speaks the most of us all. "
"… For me, it's more about action," Ball added, about how he tries to lead. "I do not think you can talk if you're not doing your job. So start with that for me, and from there."
Ball, who is more reserved and quiet by nature, understands that there will be times when he will have to be more vocal as the starting point of the team.
Ball – who averaged 9.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 32.7 percent from the 3-point range this season – was asked if there was another player who saw who leads the most for example and it's not so vocal.
"Not that I know of," Ball initially replied. "Every team I played, I kind of [have] was the leader for this. Obviously, Rondo and Bron talk all the time. I dont know how [Toronto Raptors forward] Kawhi [Leonard] Yeah, but if I had to choose one [player who is quiet and leads by example]"I'd probably tell him. "
The Lakers (23-21) have fought at 3-7 since James (groin) and Rondo (hand) were injured on Christmas Day in a win over the Golden State Warriors. They lost their last two games, including a 101-95 loss at home to Cleveland, who lost 12 straight.
James and Rondo continued to try to take as much as they could from the sideline while Chandler took over the lead vocal mantle on the court. But while James is away, the Lakers are looking at Ball, Ingram and Kuzma to keep the Lakers afloat in the Western Conference playoffs. The Lakers tied for eighth place in Monday night's game rankings.
"We want to win," Ball said of the young Lakers trio while James is away. "It's kind of our team now, the team is looking to make things happen, and we're not doing it, we're just going to do better."
Rondo – who was released to start dribbling and working with his right hand, in which he had surgery on December 28 to fix a ligament on his ring finger – has been trying to steer Ball and bring more excitement to him. Earlier this season, Ball said that Rondo would get that by talking about rubbish for him in training and making the younger point guard more irritable. The Rondo would also organize movie-only sessions for the players.
"We're talking … Tyson, me and LeBron, we're all trying to teach you what to say," Rondo said of helping Ball, Ingram and Kuzma. "Because people often do not know what to say, so they do not. And now it's been a learning curve in terms of many movie sessions, in terms of what the guys see out there and what they should say . "
Rondo said he began to feel comfortable being more vocal during his sophomore year in Boston, but he knew he had to know what he was talking about, or veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett corrected him. Now that Ball is surrounded by more talent than he has ever played, the point guard wants to make sure he is doing his job before being a vocalist with others.
"In high school, it was easy to [being vocal]"Ball said of his days playing at Chino Hills High School." It was practically my whole family [playing on the team]. I played with my brothers and my cousins, so it was easy to talk to them. At UCLA, it was pretty cool. [Former UCLA head coach Steve] Alford kind of gave me the keys and told me to take the team as far as possible. "
"The guys came to me to make all the moves," Ball added. "I had the ball in my hands practically the whole game, now we have a lot of talent in this team, a lot of guys get the ball, and we just learned to click, translate it into victories."