Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball didn’t have his best game of the season as the team beat the Dallas Mavericks 107-101 in overtime Saturday.
In his second regular-season showdown with fellow rookie point guard Dennis Smith, Jr., Ball’s box score of nine points on 4-of-13 shooting with seven rebounds and seven assists didn’t stand out amidst a season that’s seen him post far more impressive lines.
Smith far outpaced Ball in the scoring department, dropping 23 points on 8-for-19 shooting, but didn’t quite stuff the box score like his counterpart, only adding three assists, two rebounds and a solitary steal to round out his line.
So while those simply box-score or point-watching might have given the edge to the Mavericks rookie in the showdown, Smith himself told Brad Townsend of Sportsday that he was impressed by the way Ball is always able to stay calm in the face of poor shooting and find other ways to affect the game:
“Zo, he was just out there being Zo,” Smith said. “He’s cool. He’s chilling.”
Meaning what, exactly?
“It means he’s got a cool demeanor,” Smith said. “He’s been like that since 10th grade. Zo is Zo.”
From the moment he stepped on an NBA court and was faced with L.A. Clippers guard Patrick Beverley trying to bully and harangue him for 48 minutes, Ball almost never appears fazed by anything happening on an NBA floor.
He is quite possibly the most cool and composed rookie point guard to take the court in some time, playing with the cold, emotionless demeanor only possible of a man who grew up in a household with LaVar Ball and thus can’t be surprised by anything.
The way Ball finds tons of ways to affect the game without scoring is a tribute to this calmness, as most young players begin to get antsy and force things if their shots aren’t falling or retreat, afraid to make mistakes.
Ball does neither, and Smith likely won’t be the last player to be impressed by it.
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