Pelicans' Lonzo Ball on the pressure of being No. 2 overall pick: 'I didn't live up to that standard'

Just a few days after last season ended, the Los Angeles Lakers completed a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, acquiring Anthony Davis in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a plethora of draft assets. The story has been well told by now, and covered from just about every angle possible. Still, it's always interesting to hear one of the principal parties involved reflect on the situation.

That's what Ball did in a recent interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Pelicans' new point guard discussed a number of topics, including the possibility of a bright future in New Orleans, but perhaps most interesting was his admission that he didn't live up to the expectations of being the No. 2 pick. 

"Nah, nah, that wasn't too much pressure," Ball told The Athletic. "That's what I was supposed to do. No. 2 pick, you're supposed to do a job — you're supposed to turn the franchise around. And I don't think I did it to the best of my abilities. I didn't live up to that standard. Now I'm here and I'm blessed to be here.

"These are two totally different situations. It didn't go the way we wanted to the first year in L.A., then LeBron (James) came, all the injuries happened and that really messed up the second year. Here, we have Zion, Jrue (Holiday), JJ (Redick), D. Fav (Derrick Favors), all the guys that came with me in B.I. and J. Hart, so we have a lot of guys that can play. I'm trying to do my part."

Ball's struggles in his two seasons with the Lakers were plainly obvious; he shot 38 percent from the field and played just 99 of a possible 164 games due to injuries. But even though we already knew that he didn't play as well as everyone had hoped, it was still interesting to hear his reflection on the situation. It's a good sign for both Ball and the Pelicans that he isn't shying away from that failure, nor making excuses for why things didn't work out. 

Though his first two seasons in the league were disappointing, he's by no means a lost cause. At the very least, he's a huge point guard with tremendous playmaking abilities, and has already proven to be a strong defender. If he stays healthy, that alone is enough to make him a good player in the league. 

Then, of course, there's the shot. For him to eventually live up to the standards of being the No. 2 pick, he'll have to become a better shooter. Already, he's debuted a new form in New Orleans, and his shot looks much better. Still, it's clear he has some work to do, as he's shot just 5-of-16 from downtown through three preseason games. That will be something we have to monitor as the season goes along, but the foundation for better shooting seems in place. 

Ball may not have lived up to expectations in Los Angeles, but he can still fulfill the potential that made the Lakers so eager to take him No. 2 overall. He's still only 21 years old, has a fresh start in a much more relaxed atmosphere and will be playing alongside one of the league's most exciting young players in Zion Williamson

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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