BOSTON — Lonzo Ball is a soft-spoken guy, but few players have generated more debate and hype as an NBA rookie than the Los Angeles Lakers point guard.
A lot of the enormous expectations he faces can be attributed to his father, LaVar Ball, whose hot takes and ultra-confidence in his son have rubbed some people the wrong way.
Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving doesn’t sound like one of those people, though.
“Just a supportive father. Some guys are in the front lines speaking for their kids, some parents are in the back line,” Irving said of Lonzo’s dad after the Boston Celtics beat the Lakers 106-97 on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“Just like the loud parent at graduation clapping unbelievably loud. We all have our different style of parents. I think everyone just needs to appreciate their own.”
As for Lonzo the player, Irving came away impressed after his first-ever matchup against the No. 2 pick from the 2017 NBA draft.
“He’s 6-foot-6, unbelievable in transition, understanding that he wants to get his teammates involved. Can you really put a position on him, particularly right now, I don’t know,” Irving said.
“But he does a great job running that team, and when he started to get comfortable and the pace started to pick up, that’s where he starts to flourish — when it’s going up and down and he’s got to make quick decisions. Defensively he’s going to be challenged every single night. Those are signs that you know he wants to go out there and compete. That’s something you want to see out of a highly touted rookie such as Lonzo.”
Ball didn’t play too well against the Celtics, who entered Wednesday with the best defensive rating of any team in the league. He scored nine points on 4-of-15 shooting, including a 1-for-5 mark from 3-point range, while adding six assists, five rebounds and four blocks.
Still, as Irving said, he was very good in transition and pushing the pace, especially after defensive rebounds and turnovers.
Ball probably never will be a great scorer, but that shouldn’t limit him from making a huge impact on the outcome of games. His feel for the court, vision and playmaking ability already are at the level of a veteran. When he refines his shot and gets more comfortable taking contact on drives to the basket, he’ll be a much better scorer.
LaVar isn’t making it easy for Lonzo, but so far the Lakers guard has shown the mental toughness needed to block out any distractions and just focus on helping his team win.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images