Lonzo Ball passes the ball off and rolls to his left where the ball is swung out to him. He steps back and sinks a three point shot. Announcer makes a statement along the lines of, “Even though the shot was awkward, it still went in!” The announcer made this type of statement with such jubilation that it felt as if Lonzo Ball had finally arrived to the NBA. He was the big dog in the small pond of the NBA. Well...
This was his first ever made shot in the league and of course many congratulations were in store for the young man. He did it. His dream was more than realized as he scored a basket, garnished a number of assists and most importantly played in the NBA. All great accomplishments in themselves, but he came up against quite the obstacle. He came up against an opposition that played as if he had a point to prove. Taunting his rookie opponent, pushing him to his limits - causing turnovers, missed shots and mental tiredness. Patrick Beverley is going to be first team defense this season and he made that point become clear as he rose his pointer finger in the air letting out the words “FIRST TEAM! FIRST TEAM!”
This night was every bit about Patrick Beverley as it was about Lonzo Ball and the beginning of his rookie campaign. LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s dad (that you more than likely have heard of), pushed the subject matter even further. “Who is Patrick Beverley?” Well the simple response to that is that if you didn't know, now you know.
Beverley has always been quite the snarky defender. A few months ago he was traded to the Clippers in a deal that helped send Chris Paul to Houston. This move sparked something inside of him that has seemed to push him to another level physically and defensively - two traits he was already pretty damn good at.
For the rookie, Ball, going up against the likes of such a callous defender like Beverley is both a great introduction to the NBA and a potential threat to what could be an exciting rookie campaign. Now is the time to see how Lonzo responds.
He had a poor game. It was his first ever NBA game, (and yes he went up against Patrick Beverley head-to-head) but the fact of the matter is simple, they are both NBA players meaning they are on a leveled playing field now. Quite frankly, the Big Baller Brand was played out in every sense of the phrase “shut down.”
His stat line ran:
0-2 from the free throw
1-6 in field goals
So yeah, it wasn't a great opening night but as one of my students said oh so eloquently, “everyone has a bad game.” And yeah he is right, it's just unfortunate that the bad game he had is forever his first impression on NBA fans world wide. All eyes were ready to witness a spark of magic (pun intended), maybe a spark of potential greatness, and the reality was simple - at this point, in my opinion, Lonzo Ball is not quite ready.