Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball has put up some impressive individual games during his first season of NBA basketball, becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double and putting up two such performances so far.
However, Ball has also struggled at times, especially with a wayward jumper that’s seen him shoot a team-low 31.9 percent from the field thus far. Those struggles seem to have been highlighted more than Ball’s gifts early on in his career.
And while even Ball himself has admitted that he knew he would have a “tough” time adjusting to the NBA, those issues shouldn’t overshadow how promising of a player he has still shown himself to be.
During an appearance on FS1’s “First Things First,” former NBA All-Star and Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas explained why everyone should cut Ball some slack:
“I think he’s going to be a star in the slow-making. It’s always difficult to come into Los Angeles and be what Magic Johnson was at 19. That very rarely happens. But where he’s at right now and where he’s progressing, he’s touching every box on the stat sheet. He rebounds, he assists, he’s a great teammate. I’ve never heard any of his teammates complaining about him. Whether he was in high school, at UCLA, even now. … His shot will get better, his free-throw shooting will get better, he’ll learn how to score in the NBA. He’s doing all the hard things right now in terms of defending, rebounding and assisting. So, no, he’s not a bust.”
With how much hype Ball received from his father, UCLA fans and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson heading into the year, it’s no surprise that some have been in such a rush to tear him down when he doesn’t play perfectly.
With that type of promotion, Ball was never going to get the type of slack normally given to rookies. That said, Thomas is right in that Ball is a lot more than just his (admittedly historically bad) shooting numbers.
He contributes in tons of different ways, both tangible and intangible that will make him a solid player for years to come. Should he ever figure out his shot, Ball has a chance to be much more than that, something that shouldn’t be lost sight of during an up-and-down first season.
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