Kobe Bryant on Lonzo Ball: 'He Needs to Get Better Now'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 7: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half at Wells Fargo Center on December 7, 2017 in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant said Lonzo Ball, the team's rookie point guard, "needs to get better now" as the organization looks to turn a corner in its rebuilding efforts.

Josh Martin of USA Today passed along the comments Bryant made about Ball, as well as other building blocks such as Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle, during an appearance on Spectrum SportsNet in L.A:

"We never thought, 'OK, we're gonna win four years from now.' We really thought, 'This is our year. We're gonna get this done. We're gonna push, push, push, push, push, get better now.' And in the process of having that kind of impatience, you develop. If you're just patiently going about it, you'll never get there. For players, it's a kind of patient impatience."

The 39-year-old five-time NBA champion also compared the current Lakers squad with the team that brought him and Shaquille O'Neal together, via Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation:

"Even when Shaq and I first came here, there was still patience. Shaq still had to grow up, he was extremely young. I still had to grow up. We had a lot of the pieces around that had to grow up. Now, it seemed like it was easier then, because it seemed like we were a contender right off the bat. [Nick] Van Exel, Eddie Jones and Shaq. But that wasn’t the reality. It took us years to get there."

Bryant, now viewed as one of the best players in history, wasn't an impact player right out of the gate. He averaged 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game during a rookie campaign in which he made just six starts and played only 15.5 minutes per contest.

So it's a bit surprising to see him suggest Ball, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, must start making immediate progress in his development.

The 20-year-old UCLA product is averaging 8.8 points, 7.0 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals through his first 24 pro games. While the across-the-board production is solid, he's struggled mightily with his shot, making 31.9 percent of his field-goal attempts and 24.3 percent of his three-pointers.

Ball told reporters last month the shooting woes are "just in my head to be honest."

The Lakers are carrying a 9-15 record into Saturday night's road game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center.

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