For the past two games, Lonzo Ball has been riding the bench in the fourth quarter in favor of hot-shooting sixth man candidate Jordan Clarkson. But coach Luke Walton dismissed speculations that Ball will be leading the bench squad.
“He’s our starting point guard,” Walton told reporters. “So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.”
Ball finished with two points, two assists and five rebounds. He admitted afterward, for the first time this season, that he let his shot affect the other things he does to impact the game.
The second overall pick in the 2017 draft has been shooting a miserable 30.3% from the field and 23% from the three-point line for nine points a game. But he makes up for poor shooting by grabbing 6.6 rebounds and handing out 6.9 assists.
However, in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers and rookie sensation Ben Simmons, it was the first time that his shooting really affected the rest of Ball’s game. He conceded as much to reporters after the game.
It didn’t help that the Lakers used their 27th pick to draft a gem in Kyle Kuzma, the 6-9 sweet shooting forward who has been outplaying not just Ball but most of the players in the 2017 NBA draft. According to The Washington Post, he’s second among rookies in true shooting percentage and is on pace to surpass Stephen Curry, Tim Duncan, Kyrie Irving’s rookie campaigns. Kuzma is averaging 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
However, Kuzma said that Ball will be alright even if he’s under the fishbowl 24/7. “The media and everybody in the country wants him to be a Hall of Famer, wants him to be an All-Star right now, but he is still a rookie,” he said.