Lonzo Ball was under a microscope well prior to joining the NBA. That’s only intensified since being selected by the Los Angeles Lakers No. 2 overall in the 2017 Draft.
The scrutiny has been a byproduct of Ball’s shooting struggles, not yet reaching expectations, and his outspoken father LaVar, or other matters family members are involved with. Through it all, the Lakers have regularly praised Lonzo for remaining focused.
Even with some of his peaks and valleys through 23 games, Lakers head coach Luke Walton believes Ball is on pace with how previous rookies have fared, if not exceeding their play. “He’s probably where most rookies are,” Walton said.
“You have great games, you have some subpar games, then you have some average games. I think for the position that he’s playing as a 20-year-old rookie point guard in the NBA, he’s doing a much better job than I think most players could do.
“And that’s going back different players throughout the last 10 years or whatever you want to call it. I think he’s handling himself very well. He’s starting at the point guard for the Lakers.
“There’s not a harder position to learn in this league, there’s not a harder position to play. It’s got the most responsibility, and I think he’s doing a very good job of handling it.”
That Ball has also been surrounded and judged by issues pertaining to his father and siblings, is another reason Walton believes his young guard has further impressed. “He’s got a lot of off-the-court stuff that most rookies don’t have to worry about,” Walton said.
While LiAngelo was detained in China, Walton mentioned he would check in with Lonzo to ensure he was in good mental standing. That open line of communication exists, even if Ball has yet to need it.
“He seems to be alright. We’re here for ‘Zo when he needs us, and I think he knows that,” Walton said. “Part of that is us building a trust with him. I would expect if he wanted to talk about something, he would feel comfortable talking to us.”
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