Magic Johnson knows a thing or two about passing — he ranks fifth in career assists with 10,141 — but Johnson, a three-time NBA MVP, also knows the importance of scoring. Johnson held a stellar mark of 11.2 assists per game in his career, but his ability to keep defenders guessing by also becoming an elite scorer is what truly made him great.
Johnson, who is in his second year as Lakers President of Basketball Operations, strongly believes this is the transition Lonzo Ball must now enter, according to Nick Schwartz of USA TODAY Sports. Ball has already become an accomplished passer, but has plenty of room to grow as a scorer.
“He has to learn how to attack the paint and get his floaters, and then take it all the way to the rim,” Johnson said. “He loves to pass first – and that’s fine, we want him to stay with that – but a lot of times now the defense is baiting him. ‘Go ahead and drive the lane, we know you’re going to kick it out.’ So they don’t really play him. So he’s got to take it all the way.
“He’s got to be able to score. And once he’s able to score… he can do everything else. He can play defense. He’s one of the best rebounding guards in the league. And he knows how to get his teammates great shots. We want him to keep the pace going, because we want to run, run, and run.”
Drafted by Johnson’s group, Ball, 20, can help round-out his overall offensive game by taking these strides. He made his season debut on Thursday against the Trail Blazers, three months after undergoing knee surgery.
There’s more from the Western Conference:
- The Trail Blazers were more than just a team for the late Paul Allen — they were his passion, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Allen passed away this week after a battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He owned the Blazers for 30 seasons, purchasing the franchise in 1988.
- Dennis Schroder proved his worth in the Thunder’s season-opener on Tuesday, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Schroder finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes of work, filling in for the injured Russell Westbrook.
- Derrick Rose‘s role will fluctuate with the return of Jimmy Butler, writes Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Rose was labeled as a starter alongside Jeff Teague before Butler’s return, but came off the bench in the team’s first game this week. “[Rose] has the versatility to play with both groups,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So he’s gotten comfortable playing the off guard; his natural position is the point. I think you can mix and match with those guys.”