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Four reasons why Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball is struggling as a rookie

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When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 Draft, they were quick to label him as the face of their franchise.

Gaining a large following from his standout one-and-done season at UCLA as well as from the popularity of his outspoken father, the 6'6" point guard was immediately tasked with guiding the Lakers franchise through their rebuilding process.

Dropping a game to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, Ball has led the Lakers to a 5-6 record and has averaged 8.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists over 34.5 minutes per contest.

With the weight of the world on his shoulders, driven by his father's influence and the hungry media, the natural question becomes whether or not Ball will develop into the superstar that he has been projected to become.

Here are four reasons why that won't happen.

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Lofty (and unfair) expectations

Immediately after he was drafted, Magic Johnson put pressure on Lonzo in a public fashion in front of reporters, saying "I'm going to put a little pressure on you right now. You look to your right, there's some jerseys hanging on that wall. We expect a Ball jersey hanging up there one day, all right? Good."

His dad has also put a ton of pressure on him. Of the many ridiculous things that LaVar has said, claiming that Lonzo is already better than Steph Curry and saying Lonzo has already won the Rookie or the Year didn't compare to him saying that his son would be the "best guard ever", stepping over Magic.

While no one except Lonzo should take LaVar seriously, the Lakers obviously feel as though they can lean on their new point guard to lead them to more prosperous times.

Other players who have been drafted No. 2 overall since 2010 have been Brandon Ingram, D'Angelo Russell (ironically both by the Lakers), Jabari Parker, Victor Oladipo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Derrick Williams and Evan Turner.

Therefore, the second pick certainly hasn't been a predictor of success. None of those players have been All-Stars and you can easily make the argument that none will ever become one.

While Ball might certainly become an All-Star sometime in the future, it's important to consider his lofty expectations. If he doesn't lead Los Angeles to success, doesn't make multiple All-Star teams and doesn't have a Hall of Fame caliber career, he will be labeled a bust based on how the organization and his father has hyped him up.

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers

Distractions, distractions, distractions

If you haven't heard, Lonzo's father LaVar is a loose cannon. He has said controversial things, he has been straight-up rude, he has been demeaning to women and his Big Baller Brand has made headlines for its ludicrous shoe prices and absurd marketing strategies.

Although Magic and coach Luke Walton made it clear that they will not pay attention to LaVar, television networks constantly run to him for interviews, the Ball family has a reality show on Facebook and now Lonzo's younger brother Li'Angelo was arrested for allegedly shoplifting while on a trip with UCLA in China and even faces lengthy jail time if convicted.

While Lonzo was not involved, he was still hounded by reporters for a reaction. Here's what he had to say at Wednesday's shootaround:

Although he tried to distance himself from the situation, he was unable to.

Just 11 games into his NBA career, it appears as though the drama is just beginning for Lonzo, which could spell trouble. The worst part is that even if he's not directly a part of it, the off-court drama will likely follow him throughout his career.

Brick after brick

Heralded as a great shooter in college, Ball has been atrocious so far this season and chalked his struggles up to being a mental issue after Wednesday's loss.

On the season, Ball has gone 12-of-52 from three-point range. That's 23.1 percent. While the sample size is small, he has not shown an ability to take high-percentage looks from the perimeter. Also, what was considered an unusual shooting stroke heading into the NBA might need to be completely altered to improve his consistency.

However, the team has backed him up there too in the past:

In four games in the month of November, Ball has gone 2-of-17 from beyond the arc. While it would be unfair to change his shooting stroke during the season, it seems relatively obvious why no one in NBA history has shot like him in the long history of the league.

Not only has Ball been awful from deep, but he's been dreadful everywhere else too. Consider this:

Ball has shot 34.4 percent in the paint and 25.0 percent outside of it. Therefore, not only has he seemed to force shots away from the basket, but he has also not been able to finish around the rim.

He's consistent, but in a bad way

Although Ball has received an opportunity to lead the Lakers offense every night, he has been consistently bad. He had a 29-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist performance against the Phoenix Suns on October 20, but that has proved to be an anomaly.

Although Ball is not expected to lead Los Angeles in scoring, he has scored in double-figures just twice so far (including the outburst against the Suns). He has gone three games with under 10 shooting attempts and has gone 1-for-6, 2-for-7 and 0-for-2 in those contests.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns

You can't teach intangibles. You can't teach hunger. Ball seemed to check out physically and mentally in those games in particular. If attitude and effort on the court becomes an issue, things could get ugly in the future.

He has had eight double-digit shooting contests. In those games combined, he has shot 36-for-117 (30.8 percent). He is either forcing up shots, has bad form or is losing a mental battle. That's up for him to figure out. At this point, although the sample size is small, it doesn't seem like he is adjusting to the NBA level very well. Professional defenders (like Patrick Beverley, for example) have absolutely manhandled him.

While he can certainly add muscle mass and bulk in the coming years, he's a long way away from stacking up against his defenders from a physique standpoint, and that's proven to be an issue so far.

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

Considering that the Western Conference features point guards like Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies (among others), it will probably be many years until Ball comes close to approaching the elite caliber of those guys, if he ever gets there in the first place.

Given the words of his father, the statements made by the Lakers and the general hype surrounding him, if he doesn't become a transcendent player sooner rather than later, he will be labeled a bust by the media and everyone across the basketball community.

While that might not be fair, it will absolutely happen. Judging by what he's shown so far, his game needs a ton of improvement in a very unforgiving league.

Topics:
NBA
Magic Johnson
Kobe Bryant
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Brandon Ingram
Jabari Parker
Milwaukee Bucks
Central Division
Eastern Conference

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