The shooting struggles of Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Lonzo Ball have put him in the type of negative spotlight no player wants to be under. Crowds are laughing at his misses and statistics are flying around about how he’s shooting worse than any player ever to attempt more than 10 shots per game.
This type of criticism is old hat for the Lakers’ young players from the last several years, as the attention playing in purple and gold creates has led to a rush to bury their careers when they go through the typical struggles all young players thrust into huge roles usually face.
Perhaps experience with that process, as much as their friendship with Ball, is what led Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle to come to his defense after the Lakers’ loss to the Washington Wizards Thursday: via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“Probably in his head a little bit when the crowd gets at him a little bit,” Lakers second-year forward Brandon Ingram said. “Of course he’s a rookie so he’s going to make mistakes. He needs to keep fighting and keep fighting. All he can do is keep his head up and keep trying to play the right way.”
Said third-year forward Julius Randle: “Can’t make ’em if you don’t take ’em. You gotta shoot. He’s proven that he’ll make shots. Eventually the tide will turn. He works his butt off. … You gotta shoot ’em. Can’t be hesitant.”
Randle and Ingram offer wisdom beyond their years. Of course all Ball can do is keep shooting, because he’s not really forcing shots to begin with. If anything Ball has been overly passive or deferential, and if he shot much less than he does already defenses would just start to sag off of him even further until he proved he could make them pay.
Over the course of NBA history, countless young players have struggled to adjust their shot to the next level before eventually figuring things out. Ball would be far from the first to do so, but it hasn’t stopped much of the media from treating his struggles like he’s the first rookie to face such an adjustment period. Randle and Ingram know better, and they’re right to preach patience with their fellow lottery pick.
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