When the Los Angeles Lakers selected point guard Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in last summer’s NBA draft, they did so with the intention of making him the centerpiece of their rebuild.
From day one, Ball would be thrust into a starting role and have massive expectations heaped upon him both by the organization and by his outspoken father. Now, with Ball struggling with his shot, some are beginning to question whether he should be moved to the bench and be brought along more slowly.
After all, this was the tactic the Lakers took with Brandon Ingram, who drafted just one year prior to Ball. However, head coach Luke Walton told Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times that Ball is benefitting from playing against the best the NBA has to offer as part of the starting unit:
“The benefit is he gets the game experience,” Coach Luke Walton said this week. “Whether it’s close games, it’s blowouts, it’s playing against top elite point guards that do different things. John Wall, as good as it gets at getting to the rim, a [Russell] Westbrook, a Steph Curry. So he gets all that in-game experience on the go and gets to learn from it all.”
While his growing pains may be a bit more noticeable because he is playing against the best of the best, Walton is correct that the experience Ball is getting is invaluable. In the long run, Ball’s development may be sped up because the Lakers are allowing him to play through his struggles right now.
Aside from his wayward shooing, Ball is performing just fine. He’s racking up the assists as expected, but his defense has been a bit better than anyone anticipated, and he is already the third-best point guard in the league when it comes to rebounding.
If Ball can get his shot back on track, everything else that we have seen suggests that he will be one heck of a player.
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