Over the past couple of weeks there were rumors of Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball working out with an all-time great at the position (and former Laker) Steve Nash. While Lonzo’s father made some bombastic comments regarding what Nash could teach his son — in the process, dismissing the supposed workout entirely — Lonzo has now gone on record confirming the session took place.
Beyond that, Lonzo provided real insight into what he and Nash worked on and how valuable he found the former MVP’s tutelage. Via Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk:
“He’s an MVP, you know, one of the best point guards who ever played, so anything that he taught me is definitely useful,” Ball said. “And just that one day alone I learned a lot about coming off a screen, guarding, there’s a lot of stuff he helped and I appreciate him taking time out of his day to do that because I know he didn’t have to.”
Lonzo also discussed Nash schooling him in the arts of nutrition, workout regimens, and recovery:
“We talked about nutrition, keeping your body right in the training room and stuff, lifting weights the right way, so he helped me on more things than just basketball,” Ball said. “He helped me with my all around game… speaking for myself, I haven’t really taken care of my body like that before because I didn’t have to. Hearing it from him, it definitely made a lot of sense and I’m looking forward to adding that to my daily routine.”
First, Nash offering Ball tips on how to use screens is especially intriguing to me. During his heyday, Nash was a master at manipulating screens, exploiting angles, and using his dual-ability as a shooter and driver to keep defenses off balance. Nash wasn’t what many considered a great athlete, but his short area quickness, understanding of player positioning, and smarts in how to leverage his own skills to take advantage of what the defense gave him was Ph.D. level.
Passing on some of those tips and taking the time to explain any of those tactics and techniques to Ball will certainly prove helpful — even if it was only in a single session. Especially since these are not currently strengths of Lonzo’s. Currently, Ball offers limited savvy as a P&R ball-handler in relation to optimizing going in and coming out of screens. Using proper pace, setting up angles, knowing how to reverse course to set up re-screens, manipulating his defender to make him go over or under — then utilizing the right footwork + ball handling techniques to punish that decision…these are all areas of growth for Lonzo.
Which, you know, is fine! He’s a 19 year old rookie and nowhere near a finished product. But getting guidance and pointers on some of these things from one of the best players to ever do these specific things? Yeah, I’m down for that.
As for the nutrition and workout stuff, I think this too has value. The earlier in their careers players can incorporate these things into their daily routines and habits, the better. In our discussion with Amoila Cesar, he talked about some of the teaching he’s done with Julius Randle this off-season on nutrition and recovery that was such a key part in making their training regimen a success. Modern science and training techniques are going to help him. And while a lot of that information is going to come from the Lakers’ staff, having someone who maximized his career, in part, to utilizing these tactics offering advice can only be a good thing.
Overall, then, I’m just happy to hear this session happened at all and that Lonzo seemed to find real value in it. The season is almost here, you guys. Soon we’re going to see how all this off-season work translates to the court.