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The Golden State Warriors face the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday evening, and superstar Stephen Curry had some words of support for rookie Lonzo Ball ahead of the matchup.
“He’s a rookie. He’s going through the ups and downs like every rookie has, whether you’re highly touted or not,” Curry noted, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “It’s all a learning experience, trying to find your way and be comfortable. Basically my perception is he’s working through that. I’ve always said he’s a great talent, I think he loves to play basketball, so he’ll be able to fight through that and have a great career. I hope you didn’t judge me off my first 20 games in the league, either.”
Indeed, the 19-year-old Ball has experienced his fair share of peaks and valleys in his young career.
He’s averaging 8.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 32.9 minutes per game, shooting just 30.9 percent from the field and 24.5 percent from beyond the arc. He’s had eight games when he’s scored six or fewer points, surprising numbers for a player who averaged 14.6 points per game at UCLA and shot 55.1 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three.
On the other hand, he’s already posted two triple-doubles and four double-doubles in just 20 career games.
Among the critiques for Ball has been his defense, his inability to consistently finish at the rim and the disappearance of his perimeter shot. More than a few people have questioned whether he needs to rework his unorthodox shooting motion, which often allows defenders to shade him to his left and force him to go right, where he’s far less comfortable.
Curry isn’t one the doubters, however.
“He’s not the first person the peanut gallery kind of wants to chime in and tell people how to play the game,” he noted. “But at the end of the day, he’s made shots shooting like that before. I’m pretty sure he’ll figure out what that means in the NBA. That’s for him to decide.”
The other side of Ball’s time in the spotlight tends to revolve around his father, LaVar Ball, the provocateur extraordinaire who publicly stated his son was better than Curry last year. The two-time MVP was dismissive of his comments then, however, and was again when the elder Ball was brought up on Tuesday.
“Nah. More comic relief for me,” he said when asked if LaVar Ball’s remarks would serve as extra motivation on Wednesday. “Need that from time to time.”