Lonzo Ball has a fan in head coach Doc Rivers.
In advance of his team’s victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach told reporters he has extremely high hopes for Hollywood’s headlining rookie, per Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell:
Doc Rivers says he’s very high on
@ZO2_: “He’s not (just) going to be good, he’s going to be great. I really believe that. There are few guys in the league … whose actions bleed out to the team.”
We’ll just go ahead and assume Rivers still feels the same way now, even after Ball’s 1-of-7, four-foul, three-turnover, minus-12 dud against the Clippers. And we’ll also just go ahead and assume Rivers isn’t merely disarmed at the sight of a semi-healthy point guard. After all, he has lost Patrick Beverley for the season, and Milos Teodosic, a rookie himself, hasn’t played since Oct. 21 due to a nasty caste of plantar fasciitis. It would be understandable if he was simply high on any floor general with working limbs who can run a half-functioning pick-and-roll.
But I digress…
Compliments on Ball’s behalf have been few and far between when looking beyond his family tree. He’s posting historically bad shooting percentages from the floor for someone with his volume, according to Basketball-Reference, and the Lakers’ low-expectation, lower-efficiency offense pumps in more points per 100 possessions when he’s off the court, according to NBA.com.
Rivers has the right spirit, though. Ball is a good passer, no matter how you feel about the difficulty of his recorded assists. Teammates run the floor harder off opponent misses when he grabs a rebound. They know he’s looking to defer. His greatest fault, to date, is probably a surfeit of selflessness. He’s not aggressive enough in looking for his shot or attempting to draw contact.
That extra pizzazz should come with reps and exposure. For now, Ball is an above-average passer and better-than-expected defender who needs to pray he starts shooting at a higher clip around the basket and from beyond the arc. While not an ideal situation, his case is far from helpless this early in the game.