NBA: Coach Luke Walton admits players ‘come after’ Lonzo Ball due to hype
The Los Angeles Lakers prized recruit Lonzo Ball had an underwhelming NBA debut on Thursday (Friday in Manila), tallying 3 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the team’s lopsided 108-92 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The lackluster showing was in large part due to the stifling defense of Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley, who hounded the 19-year-old every chance he could.
But even before tip-off, Lakers head coach Luke Walton knew that the UCLA product would have a huge target on his back throughout the season.
“They’re going to come after him,” Walton told Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. “That’s what people in this league do. They come after young players, and when there’s young players a lot of media and a hype around them, they really come after them.”
Ball, of course, has become one of the most hyped-up prospects even before he entered the NBA, mostly due to the outlandish proclamations made by his father, LaVar.
The UCLA product also entered the league having his own signature shoes under the Big Baller Brand, and also starred in “Ball in the Family” reality show.
Walton, meanwhile, correctly predicted that Beverley would indeed be a thorn to the side of the rookie player in his first game.
“If any players are going to try to make a statement against Ball, you might expect it to be Beverley, a first-team all-defensive guard and an all-word annoyance whose own path to the NBA was a far cry from that of Ball,” he said before the game.
He had also noted Ball’s ankle injury suffered in pre-season, which could impact his conditioning. Khristian Ibarrola /ra
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