Let’s be careful about how much weight to give a single exhibition game, but Lonzo Ball was atrocious in his summer league debut for the Lakers.
In the Lakers’ 96-93 overtime loss to the Clippers in Las Vegas on Friday night, Ball shot 2-for-15 from the floor for just five points and turned the ball over three times. But he also had five assists — passing was the silver lining of his performance — four rebounds, two steals and a block.
“He has not played a lot of full-court basketball since (UCLA lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in March),” Lakers summer league coach Jud Buechler said, per the L.A. Times. “We’re not going to use that as an excuse. He needs to get better. But it was a hell of an atmosphere tonight for his first game.”
“(It was) just a lot different from UCLA, a lot more screens,” Ball said. “Just gotta learn how to fight over them.”
The night started out well for Ball, as less than 30 second into the game, he threw a gorgeous lob from well beyond the 3-point arc to Brandon Ingram for an alley-oop dunk. The play highlighted what many basketball observers believe is Ball’s best skill — passing.
“His passing was incredible,” Buechler said. “That first half you can really see what you can do. You can see the ball in his hands. If you’re running the wing, you better pay attention because he’s going to hit you in the side of your head. He can pass the ball, he can run the offense.”
At least Ingram impressed the Lakers onlookers, which included president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, GM Rob Pelinka, coach Luke Walton, associate head coach Brian Shaw, assistant Jesse Mermuys and players Larry Nance Jr. and Corey Brewer. The second-year forward went for 26 points on 9-for-17 shooting, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 31 minutes.
Lonzo’s family was also in attendance, of course, and his father, LaVar, was in his typical form post-game.
LaVar Ball on Lonzo Ball’s debut: “His worst game ever… [but] he changed the Lakers’ culture.” pic.twitter.com/u8g4OYJiey
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 8, 2017
“He’s supposed to make those shots, but he didn’t. Oh well,” LaVar Ball said. “It’s better for him to start at the bottom than to have all this success at the top, now you’re going to expect it whole season. He’s gonna grow. …
“I’ll tell you want he can do,” LaVar went on. “Look at all these Laker fans out here, he changed the culture. It ain’t about him being a superstar, but he changed the culture. Instead of going to the movies, everybody’s going to watch the Lakers and the Big Baller Brand.”