When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted point guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick out of UCLA, they envisioned that he would become a Magic Johnson-like point guard, changing the entire culture in L.A. by getting out in transition and finding open teammates.
One thing the Lakers front office also knew was that he had an unorthodox jump shot that they may need to tinker with, so Ball as a shooter would be a work-in-progress.
So far through his first 15 career games, Ball has had his ups and downs, but has, for the most part, been what the Lakers thought they were getting in him.
Wednesday night’s 115-109 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was perhaps Ball’s worst game, as he scored just two points on 1-of-9 shooting, missing all six of his three-point attempts, while contributing five rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. For the second consecutive game, Lakers head coach Luke Walton opted to keep Ball on the bench for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
After the game, Ball’s teammates and fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma came to his defense, saying that he takes a lot of flak from the media but still believes he’s going to be a great player.
“It’s tough. The NBA is not easy,” Kuzma said. “The media and everyone else gives him a lot of flak, but he’s still a rookie. 20 years old. The NBA is not easy for anybody. Not every rookie comes out of the gate storming. He’ll be fine. He’s a great player and he has confidence. He’ll be alright.”
Ball is shooting just 30.3 percent from the field and 23 percent from three-point range, but on most night’s he is finding other ways to contribute despite his shooting struggles, as he’s averaging 6.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists on the season.
But Wednesday night Walton believed that his shooting struggles affected the rest of his game, which is why he left him on the bench to close out the game.
While Laker fans and people throughout the media are already ready to write off Ball as a bust, people within the organization understand that the 20-year-old just needs time to develop and adjust to the NBA game and they are going to give him that time.
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