An MVP-caliber player joining an already stacked roster? There's been precedent for that in the NBA since the late 1960s Lakers.

Marcellus Wiley explains how Lonzo Ball's unselfish play will attract free agents who would otherwise overlook the Lakers.

Adrian Wojnarowski shares how Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is recruiting LeBron James' camp to the Lakers, and reveals a failed trade between the Bulls and L.A. for Dwyane Wade.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Magic Johnson believes Lonzo Ball's triple-doubles in summer league were just a preview of more to come.

"You can see that. If he's getting triple-doubles in the summer league, he is going to get triple-doubles in the regular season," Johnson said. "Just like me, when I got here, there was pressure. I was the No. 1 pick [in 1979]. I didn't care about that. I am going to play my game. Lonzo is going to play his game. The great ones do."

Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations, spoke Tuesday after the team introduced free-agent acquisition Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Johnson praised the way Ball impacts the game and his teammates as a point guard. Johnson, a Hall of Fame point guard, said he sees some similarities between Ball and himself in how they play.

"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."

"I think it is the same in terms of the basketball IQ," Johnson added, about what he and Ball have in common. "What is lacking in our game is a guy that can create a shot for somebody else. That is why Golden State

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Lonzo Ball was the star of summer league, as evidenced by his MVP performance that helped the Los Angeles Lakers win the Las Vegas Summer League title, but he isn't the only purple and gold rookie making headwinds.

There are also rookies Shawn Carter and Ned Stark, both of whom are showing their skills on the court.


We all know that Lakers fans are fiercely loyal, but the Sacramento Kings pulled a fast one on them, asking them what they think about Carter and Stark, who don't exist.

The Kings may have stumped Lakers fans this time, but by the looks of Ball in the summer league, perhaps the Lakers will get the last laugh. In retaliation, maybe the Lakers video department can bring back old footage of the last Sacramento Kings championship. 

That one might take a while to find.

- John Silver

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The young Lakers took home the summer league hardware and Paul Pierce retired as a Celtic.

LAS VEGAS -- Jason Kidd has heard the comparisons of Lonzo Ball to himself many times since Ball began to shine at UCLA last season.

Some even think that Ball looks a bit like Kidd when he came out as a highly acclaimed pass-first point guard and the No. 2 overall pick out of Cal in the 1994 draft.

"Yeah, I've heard that a lot," Kidd said last week at the Las Vegas Summer League. "And the more I have been in Vegas, that is all I have heard."

While that's up for debate, some longtime NBA executives and coaches do see Kidd-like traits in Ball's game. From the flashy pinpoint passing, uncanny floor vision and ability to see plays develop in advance to the unflappable demeanor right down to the much-maligned jump shot, Ball reminds some of the current Milwaukee Bucks head coach.

"I thought he was as advertised," said one longtime Eastern Conference talent evaluator, who needed to see Ball only twice to be sold on the Lakers rookie. "Elite facilitator/passer, makes everyone better. If you just do what you're supposed to do, he will get you the ball right on time. He's pretty incredible. No disappointment on my part. ... The guy is special.

"He reminds me of J-Kidd."

ESPN spoke to general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts/talent evaluators and former players at the Las Vegas Summer League to ask them what they learned about Ball, who was named the Most Valuable Player of summer league play ahead of Monday's championship game. Here's their breakdown of Magic Johnson's point guard protégé, where he excels, where he can improve and what he will face:


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Who stood out the most at NBA summer league this year? What are the biggest takeaways?

Our crew reviews the summer league scene.

1. Who was the best rookie you saw at summer league?

Tim MacMahon, Lonzo Ball, at least once he started wearing shoes from legitimate brands. Sure, his inconsistent, funky jumper caused me to make bad Lonzo Carter-Williams jokes, especially in the wake of his 2-for-15 summer debut.

But, man, what a magical distributor. Precious few players possess the vision that Ball has, and he consistently delivers pinpoint passes, even from 70 feet away.

Honorable mention: Dallas Mavericks highlight machine Dennis Smith Jr.

Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight/ It's hard to contextualize "best" because these games don't really matter, and so many people got hurt or were forced to rest at times. But I enjoyed watching Smith the most. His athleticism is obviously off the charts, but beyond that, his game is smooth, he has good vision and he's a good finisher around the basket with both hands.

Austin Tedesco, Smith's pick-and-roll work was masterful -- distributing out of the Bulls' many traps with just one turnover in his first game, then carving up the Suns' switches in the next -- and the best thing about his athleticism is how selectively he unleashes it. You can already see how many aspects of Smith's game will translate to real NBA competition. It's too bad he can't play in the triangle.

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With Lonzo Ball sitting out due to a calf injury, Kyle Kuzma fuels the Lakers with 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 110-98 win over the Trail Blazers.

Magic Johnson says "the Lakers are back" and it all begins with the strong play of the summer league squad and is proud of Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball for leading by playing team basketball.

After being named MVP of the summer league championship game, Kyle Kuzma says he proved that "anything is possible" if you believe in yourself. Overall league MVP Lonzo Ball credits his teammates for his award.

With 1.8 seconds left in the third quarter, Kyle Kuzma grabs the inbounds pass and hits a 3-pointer.

Lonzo Ball says he wanted to play in the summer league championship game but was ruled out and credits his coaches and teammates for winning the MVP trophy.

Kyle Kuzma finishes a big first half by driving through the Blazers defense for a layup while getting fouled. Kuzma records 19 points in the opening two quarters.



Jordan Clarkson
14.7 2.6 1.1 29.2
ReboundsJ. Randle 8.6
AssistsJ. Randle 3.6
StealsL. Nance Jr. 1.3
BlocksI. Zubac 0.9