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Whicker: Give Lakers’ Lonzo Ball room to breathe, and then we’ll see

By in Press Enterprise on November 28, 2017

By Mark Whicker

There were plentiful reasons to see the Lakers and Clippers Monday at Staples Center, but only one issue.

It was the Daily Tracking Poll for Lonzo Ball.

Overrated? Underrated? The next All-Star lock? The next Andrew Goudelock?

Threat? Menace?

No trip downcourt goes without evaluation for Ball. No opinion is modulated, or moderated. Nothing he does is out of bounds, except for the occasional hunk of basalt he throws up there from the 3-point line.

The truth is that the Lakers and Ball are both a work in progress, with everyone involved wanting to see more of both.

And Ball is going through nothing unusual for a guy who was romping up and down for Chino Hills in 60-point wins two years ago, and running the show at UCLA last season.

Ball is fitting right in with the rest of the struggling one-and-dones who regularly lead off the NBA draft. It isn’t his fault, or theirs, that the NBA brains insist on drafting players who should be serving their apprenticeship somewhere else, like Europe maybe.

In the 2017 draft, 10 of the first 11 picks were college freshmen, and nine of the first 10 college players.

Ball came into the Clippers’ game averaging 33.3 minutes and shooting 31.5 percent from the floor. He also has two triple-doubles. The Lakers don’t always run their offense through him, stationing him on the side at times while Brandon Ingram, last year’s one-and-done, takes over. Still, to say Ball will either be an All-Star or a sad footnote is woefully premature. The Lakers had to take him with the No. 2 pick and had to start him. They just hope he didn’t hit the Rookie Wall before the mortar dried.

None of Ball’s one-and-done classmates are revolutionizing basketball in the NBA. Boston’s Jayson Tatum is coming the closest, shooting 49.2 percent, but he’s part […]    

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