When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, sky-high expectations were immediately placed on the local product.
A first-team All-American at UCLA last season, Ball’s unique skillset offered hope to Lakers fans that a new, exciting era of winning basketball was on the periphery. While the 20-year-old has shown glimpses of the player that the organization and fan base has expected of him, he has struggled with consistency in the early going.
As a result, Ball has received his fair share of criticism thus far — sometimes unwarranted — and players and coaches from around the league, including Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James and Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, have come to the defense of the rookie.
Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry was the latest player to offer words of encouragement to Ball, specifically focusing on his shooting form, via Melissa Rohlin of the Bay Area News Group:
“He’s not the first person who the peanut gallery wants to chime in and tell how to play the game,” Curry said. “At the end of the day, he’s made shots shooting like that before. I’m pretty sure he can figure out what that means in an NBA game. That’s for him to decide.”
In his first matchup against Curry and the Warriors, Ball scored 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting. More impressively, he connected on three of his seven attempts from behind the arc, including knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers during a personal 8-0 run.
It can be argued Ball outplayed Curry through regulation on Wednesday night, but the two-time MVP erupted to score 13 of the Warriors’ 18 points in overtime.
Through 21 games, Ball has averaged nine points per game on just 31.5 percent shooting from the floor and 25.7 percent from behind the arc. While he’s struggled with his shot, Ball is additionally averaging 7.2 assists and seven rebounds per game, with 1.4 steals to boot.
Ball and the Lakers have maintained confidence his shooting woes would soon become a thing of the past. Head coach Luke Walton noted his point guard has been “lights out” at practice over the past two weeks.
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