Former UCLA star point guard Lonzo Ball was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but he hasn't exactly taken the NBA by storm like many expected him to.
No, it has been slow going for the Los Angeles Lakers rookie, who has had trouble scoring for most of the season.
However, his coach - Luke Walton - isn't giving up on the young talent just yet, as it is still very early in his NBA career and there is still plenty of time left to develop an NBA-level shot.
After Ball scored only five points in the Lakers' 110-99 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, Walton told LATimes.com that he still believes Ball can become a great scorer at some point:
“I do,” Walton said Saturday. “He has such a great feel for the game. You saw it [Thursday] night the way he was getting to the rim and pushing it in transition, he just understands angles and he’s got the speed as he becomes stronger and is able to finish more consistently around the rim. He’s got such a good knack for getting those shots. You add that with the ability that I think he’s going to be a fine NBA three-point shooter as well. It just, it makes for the ability to be a very good scorer.”
Ball dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds in the win over the Hornets, so he is still making contributions to the game, but he just hasn't found success with his shot just yet.
Walton acknowledged that Ball will likely never be a dynamic scorer, simply because he prefers to get his teammates involved with the pass first. But, Walton added, that will eventually start to open up new opportunities for Ball to take it to the rim:
“He’ll always want to pass first, which will also lead to him having scoring opportunities because defenders are going to be more worried about guarding their own man,” Walton said. “But he’ll be able to really put a lot of pressure on defenses.”
The Lakers have some dynamic young players in Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, among others, and will also have plenty of salary cap room to bring in some big-name free agents this offseason. Therefore, if a couple of stars head out to LA to team up with Ball, he'll face even less pressure to score, as he'll have other scorers who can carry the load offensively.