X

Lakers News: LeBron James Says 'Trust the Process,' Analyzing Lonzo Ball's Debut

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 19, 2018

PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 18:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second quarter of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on October 18, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. 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 Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers are going to be a work-in-progress, and The King knows it. 

Speaking to reporters following Thursday's 128-119 season-opening loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, James borrowed a phrase from Joel Embiid and said the Lakers will have to "trust the process" as they try to avoid pressing the panic button and develop their core young pieces alongside established vets like Rajon Rondo

"You have to put in the time and the commitment and trust the process," James said, according to LeBronWire's Erik Garcia Gundersen. "The best teacher in life is experience. A lot of these guys don't have experience. We have to understand that. Rajon (Rondo) understands that."

Expectations are naturally sky-high in Laker Land now that LeBron is in tow. But as he noted, it's unfair to expect the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to mesh quickly with their new teammates in a more pressure-packed environment. 

"There's going to be good times. There's going to be bad times," James said, per the Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike. "That's what happens when a team is new."

James would know. 

The Miami Heat experienced their fair share of chemistry issues during the 2010-11 campaign as did the Cleveland Cavaliers during LeBron's return to Northeast Ohio in 2014. 

The Lakers will likely toil in frustration as well, but any team captained by James is sure to snap out of its funk in relatively short order. 

Breaking Down Lonzo's 2018-19 Debut

Speaking of adjustments, Lonzo Ball had to make a big one Thursday as he ceded starting duties to Rondo and came off the bench for the third time in his career. 

The results? Not so spectacular. 

Still grinding his way back into form following offseason knee surgery to address a torn meniscus, Ball finished with seven points (2-of-7 shooting), four rebounds, one assist and one steal in 19 minutes. 

Beyond the numbers, the biggest takeaway was that Lonzo was forced to play off the ball much more with playmakers by his side. In fact, Ball shared the floor with Kyle Kuzma for 19 minutes, Josh Hart for 17 minutes, Lance Stephenson for 15 minutes and James for 13 minutes during his 2018-19 debut, according to NBA.com's lineup data

That unit is jam-packed with ball-handlers and playmakers, and it was clear the alignment resulted in Ball assuming a less assertive role that required him to operate as more of a spot-up shooter. Specifically, he posted 34 total touches, which ranked fifth among all Lakers players. 

"He's just got to trust his shot. He works on his game every single day, before practice and after practice," James said, per Gundersen. "If they go under, trust your shot, trust what you've been working on. Just trust it. And he did." 

Stats courtesy of NBA.com

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.