Lonzo Ball struggles in debut as Lakers get blown out by Clippers in season opener
Ball's eagerly awaited first NBA game didn't go the way Laker fans hoped
The highly anticipated NBA debut of Lonzo Ball is in the books, and it was ... well ... at least it's over. The Lakers were blown out by the Clippers, 108-92, in the season-opener for both teams Thursday night.
Ball had a rough start to his NBA career, finishing with three points, nine rebounds four assists, a steal and a block in his first game. Here are some takeaways from his performance.
It can only go up from here
Lonzo probably came into this game with the most unrealistic expectations of any rookie in NBA history. This isn't LeBron James, a 6-foot-8 powerhouse who looked like he was 30 when he was 18. Ball isn't the type of player who can go out and physically dominate a game with his athleticism, so it's going to take a while for him to find his place in the league.
That being said, the debut was rough. Three points on 1-of-6 shooting just isn't going to cut it if this team is going to be successful -- he needs to be at least somewhat of a scoring threat. The low assist number was as much a product of his teammates not making shots as his lack of vision. He also didn't really get a chance to showcase his talent in transition, where he tends to thrive.
Lonzo's first points
Considering how poorly he shot from deep in the summer league and in preseason, it was a bit surprising to see Lonzo connect from 3-point range for his first (and only) NBA points with just under five minutes left in the second quarter.
Ball struggled offensively for much of the first half, but so did the rest of the Lakers, who looked disjointed and lacked any form of chemistry.
Beverley the bulldog
Due to all the attention brought to him by his boisterous father, there will be a definite target on Lonzo's back -- at least for the start of the season. Ball drew arguably the worst possible matchup for his first game with Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley, known as much for intentionally irritating his opponents as his tremendous defensive ability. Beverley didn't hide the fact that he was going right after Ball from the get-go.
Yeah, what he said. Beverley was clearly on the prowl early on, getting extremely physical with Lonzo and sticking to him like glue at 94 feet.
Welcome to the NBA, rook. To Lonzo's credit, he stayed true to his calm demeanor and didn't retaliate. Not all defenders will take him to task like Beverley did, but we might see similar things during Lonzo's first couple months in the NBA.
Even in a game in which he struggled, there are some positives to take away. Ball got into the paint and hit the defensive glass, collecting nine rebounds. When he gets the rebound and pushes the ball himself, it creates the transition opportunities in which the young Lakers can shine. More than once, Lonzo caught the defense sleeping by throwing pinpoint, nearly full-court outlet passes.
This is a tough pass to complete against NBA athletes, so it's a good sign that he's already on the mark in his first NBA game.
Another good sign: He only had two turnovers. For as aggressive as Beverley was with him and as poorly as the Lakers played, it's pretty impressive that Ball was able to take care of the ball the way he did.
And of course we have to end with the obvious. This is Lonzo Ball's first NBA game. Don't let the hype fool you -- it's going to take some time for him to develop into the player the Lakers hope he can be. But, for at least one night, hardcore Lakers fans hoping that Lonzo would immediately turn the team into a playoff contender were bitterly disappointed.
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