The Los Angeles Lakers opening game against the Los Angeles Clippers signaled the beginning of the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League and new era of Lakers rookies. The game couldn’t have had a more ideal beginning, with Lonzo Ball hitting Brandon Ingram on a backdoor alley-oop.
However, the outcome of the game certainly didn’t sit well with the players, especially Ball. The No. 2 overall pick wasn’t able to find a rhythm against the Clippers, although he was effective with his ball handling duties. He finished the contest with five points, on 2-for-15 shooting, with four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Ball also shot a forgettable 1-for-11 from three-point range, thanks in part to a few late shot clock situations.
The sub-par start certainly turned into a field day for social media, with people questioning the immeasurable talent of the UCLA product. However, NBA players were able to see through the cracks and understand that Ball is destined for greatness. First to Ball’s defense was UCLA legend and former All-Star Baron Davis. He took to Twitter to state his displeasure with all the fake fans writing off the 19-year-old:
Yall stupid for hating on Lonzo. haters for real. No bball IQ. Just writing for page views and clicks.. just wait n see what he do
— Baron Davis (@BaronDavis) July 8, 2017
Brandon Jennings agreed that his 2017 Las Vegas Summer League debut was overhyped, stating that the point of the league is to prepare for opening night for the 2017-18 season:
Lonzo Ball summer league means nothing as far as wins and stats. Just hoop. And make sure your ass is ready by Oct 30th. 82 ✊🏾
— Brandon Jennings (@brandonjennings) July 8, 2017
Former Lakers point guard Nick Van Exel also came to the aid of Ball, with a little story that should ease the pain of Ball:
Facts. I was HORRIBLE my 1st summer lg game. 😭😂. Lakers signed me the next day. Lol https://t.co/pv5NQCpDZO
— nick vanexel (@vanexel31) July 8, 2017
The Lakers ultimately fell by a score of 96-93, in a contest that took overtime to decide. Ball certainly deserves some leeway, seeing as how this was his first official game since UCLA lost in the NCAA Tournament. Even though his shot was off, he affected the game in other ways, in particular his passing is already becoming contagious and led to many ‘hockey assists’ that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
With their Saturday clash against the Boston Celtics and Monday clash against the Sacramento Kings still to remain, Ball has an ample amount of time to build upon and find that explosive rhythm. He should also see more opportunities going into the second game, with Brandon Ingram being ruled out for the remainder of the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League.