There haven't been many rookies who have arrived in the NBA with as much hype and pressure as Lonzo Ball, and the Los Angeles Lakers' point guard has already experienced his fair share of highs and lows in his first season in the league. With his now infamous father LaVar providing a one-man hype machine for his son, Ball has been a marked man by opponents during the opening stages of the new season. While that has seen the rookie struggle to produce the sort of scoring form he might have wanted, the 20-year old has shown another side to his game: an ability to mix it with experienced veterans.
Playing in a Lakers team that have undergone some significant changes in recent years, Ball has been tipped as the man to replace Kobe Bryant and lead the franchise back to the big time. That's certainly a lot of pressure for a rookie, and his early-season performances might have highlighted the need for patience from not only the Lakers fans but also the league as a whole. While the point guard has shown real signs of quality this season, averaging 10 points, 7.7 assists, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, his shooting of 28.1 percent from beyond the arc and a modest 31.1 percent overall show he still has a way to go.
Despite suffering four losses from the opening six games, there have been some encouraging signs for the Lakers, including wins over the Phoenix Suns - in which Ball scored 29 points - and the Washington Wizards. It might be a bit early to be looking to back the Lakers to be challenging for the championship this season but the franchise could well be worth a punt to sneak into the playoffs for those bold punters. LA can be backed at odds of +15000 at bookmakers online, including When at ChampionBets. The Western Conference has already thrown up a number of surprises this season, and the Lakers will be looking to add another one to that list come the end of the regular season.
But Ball showed his maturity following the Lakers' 96-81 defeat to the Utah Jazz, shouldering the blame for the loss following two mistakes that ended up proving to be costly. Late in the third quarter, with the Lakers down by six points following an impressive fightback from falling 31-16 down, Ball failed to box out Donovan Mitchell who scored a momentum-swinging slam. Another mistake saw the rookie concede a turnover, and while putting the loss solely on his own shoulders might be harsh, it shows he isn't scared of taking responsibility.
One thing is for sure, Ball will have to go through a lot more ups and downs between now and the end of the season, and the real review of whether or not he is the real deal should really be left until at least then. It might actually not be until Ball is nearer 25 before he reaches his potential, and for the time being the Lakers should be wary of heaping too much pressure on his shoulders. The 2017 draft's most famous face has already shown he puts a lot of pressure on his own shoulders already.