Magic Johnson dazzled by Ball magic for Lakers

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Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson speaks to media before introducing newly drafted player Lonzo Ball at Toyota Sports Center. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

LOS ANGELES — Magic Johnson believes Lonzo Ball’s dazzling performances in the Las Vegas Summer League are a shape of things to come as the Los Angeles Lakers attempt to regain former glories.

Ball, chosen by the Lakers with the second overall pick in the draft, was named MVP of the summer league after posting two triple doubles and recording four games with 10 assists or more.

The 19-year-old’s performances rewrote the record books in the summer league. Until this year, no rookie had posted more than one with 10 assists and no rookie had completed more than one triple double.

According to Johnson, that bodes well for the Lakers’ future.

“If he’s getting triple-doubles in the summer league, he is going to get triple-doubles in the regular season,” Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations, told reporters Tuesday.

“Just like me, when I got here, there was pressure. I was the No. 1 pick. I didn’t care about that. I am going to play my game. Lonzo is going to play his game. The great ones do,” he was quoted by ESPN as saying.

Johnson, who was speaking at the unveiling of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at their El Segundo training base, said he had seen similarities between Ball and himself in his performances to date.

“Lonzo is special, no question about it, because he makes everyone better,” Johnson said. “He does something you can’t teach. He gives you a scoring pass. Very few point guards in this league can do that. I am talking about giving you a pass that leads to the score, not just passing it to you. … I like him because he also is now a great teammate. He has a special effect on people.”

The Lakers, who completed the worst season in the franchise’s history in 2016 with a 17-65 record, and were second bottom in the Western Conference last season, were already a better team, Johnson said.

“The roster is more balanced. We saw the ball movement in summer league. … We want to go up and down. … Also, our practices are going to be amazing, and that will lead to us getting better in games,” he said.

© Agence France-Presse

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