Lonzo Ball helps Lakers rebound
By Bill Oram
EL SEGUNDO — Before he became the starting point guard for the Lakers, Lonzo Ball anchored the back line of his youth team’s zone defense.
“My brothers were smaller than me,” he said Monday, “so I usually got most of the rebounds.”
It opened up a world of possibility for Ball, whose career-high 16 rebounds in a triple-double performance on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets were the most by a rookie guard since Steve Francis in 2000.
Ball’s rebounding adds an exciting dimension for the Lakers, who have emphasized pushing the ball on offense.
“It starts the fast break a lot easier,” Ball said. “When I get the ball, don’t have to wait for the big men to give me it. Just get it and go.”
Through 17 games, Ball leads the Lakers with 121 total rebounds, and his 7.1 boards per game are second only to Larry Nance Jr.’s 7.5 per contest. Among point guards, only Russell Westbrook (9.1 per game) and Ben Simmons (8.2) average more rebounds.
With much hand-wringing over Ball’s ability to score, Sunday’s performance was a reminder of the other ways he can impact a game.
“If my shot’s not falling,” he said, “it’s just another category to fill up.”
Assistant coach Brian Shaw has worked with the rookie on using rebounding to open up the rest of his game. It’s something that comes naturally to Ball.
“He’s not waiting for the ball to come to him,” Coach Luke Walton said. “He goes and gets it and understands angles and gets off the ground pretty well when he’s doing those things. But most of it is anticipation of where the ball is going.”
Walton added: “There’s even sometimes where he knows he won’t be able to get to the rebound so he’ll position himself to be able to strip somebody when they’re coming down with […]