Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball set several milestones while compiling his second triple-double of the season in the team’s blowout victory over the Denver Nuggets.
According to Lakers Media Relations, Ball became one of six rookies in NBA history to have multiple triple-doubles in his first 20 games, joining a list that includes Oscar Robertson, Hambone Williams, Connie Hawkins, Magic Johnson and Ben Simmons. At 20 years and 23 days old, Ball also tied LeBron James as the youngest player to ever get multiple triple-doubles.
Suffice it to say the night was an eye-popping one for Ball, and perhaps no stat jumped off the page quite like the 16 rebounds he compiled in the win. That was the most by any rookie this season and the most by a rookie guard since Steve Francis had 17 during his first season in 2000.
After the game, Ball credited some advice from Lakers Lead Assistant Brian Shaw for his prowess on the glass via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Lonzo Ball said that one of the pieces of advice Brian Shaw told him was that when he rebounds, his overall game is better. Lonzo took it to heart with his 16 rebounds tonight.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 20, 2017
Triple-doubles are a somewhat arbitrary stat, but it might be worth noting that both of Ball’s this season have come in his two highest rebound games: the 16 he grabbed against Denver, and the 12 he had against the Milwaukee Bucks. Plus-minus also isn’t a perfect stat, but Ball has been a positive in it eight times in 17 games this season, and in four of those he’s posted more rebounds than the already impressive 6.6 he averages per game.
It’s easy to see why. When Ball grabs rebounds, the Lakers are able to get out and go immediately, allowing them to play against a non-set defense in transition rather than test their weak halfcourt offense against prepared opponents. The more he does that, the better his numbers are going to look, which is why Shaw’s observation makes sense.
Ball’s rebounds are going to be out of his control sometimes. Occasionally opponents are going to shoot well and sometimes his teammates may snatch more than normal. But Shaw’s point stands, and the Lakers would (and have) done well to make sure they funnel as many boards to their fastbreak kickstarting, first-year guard.
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