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Kobe Bryant: Lonzo Ball Has Pressure on Him After LeBron James Agrees to LA Deal

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 13: Lonzo Ball #2 and Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers stand for the National Anthem before the game against the Denver Nuggets on March 13, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The arrival of LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers changed the landscape of the NBA, and former Laker great Kobe Bryant believes it also changed the stakes for young players like Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

"Players like Lonzo and Kyle and the others now have that really good pressure to push them forward sooner rather than later, and I can't wait to see them respond to it... " he said Monday, per ESPN Los Angeles. "It's going to be terrific." 

Bryant also broke down the composition of the team. 

"Well, if you look at the positions...I mean they have a lot of versatility, offensive versatility, guys that can play-make...create opportunities for themselves and for others but can understand how to move without the ball. That's extremely important," he noted.

He added that he believes the L.A.'s defensive scheme and effort will be vital.

"The true test comes on the defensive end of the floor," Bryant said. "That's where the learning curve has to pick up substantially, and that's what LeBron is actually really, really great at... I think that's going to speed up the learning curve for our young guys tremendously."

The Lakers likely remain a work in progress, even after they agreed to deals with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee following James' announcement he would be joining them Sunday, per CBS Sports.

Julius Randle's future in Los Angeles remains unknown. The team could also remain in the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes or use some of its young assets to add another star to pair with James (Kevin Love and Kemba Walker are intriguing potential targets). 

It's unclear if Ball, Kuzma and other young players like Brandon Ingram, 20, and Josh Hart, 23, will even have a chance to play with James. Regardless, Bryant believes in the vision of the team.

"I've known [general manager] Rob [Pelinka] long enough to tell you that he has thought of Plan A to Z," he said. "He has carved it a million different ways. He is extremely well-prepared for whatever direction they decide to go in."

Bryant added: "They might have to give [president of basketball operations Magic Johnson] another statue. What Magic is pulling off is absolutely incredible...what he's been able to do and the legacy that he's had for our franchise...it's ridiculous. It's unbelievable."   

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