After Thursday night’s game, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade gave a shout out to Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball.
After the Los Angeles Lakers sunk the Miami Heat on Thursday evening, Dwyane Wade had some kind words to say about one of the Lakers’ youngsters. Wade’s comments were specifically directed at rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.
Albeit Wade has not played against Ball too many times, the latter’s game clearly impressed D-Wade. Ball amassed eight points, seven dimes, six boards, and six steals in the Lakers’ win. The six steals were a career-high for the 20-year-old.
Ball’s activity on defense certainly prevented Miami from getting into any kind of rhythm. While some may consider this to be an anomaly, that is far from true. There have been various times this season when Lonzo’s length has come in handy. It is a very underappreciated part of his game.
Despite that truth, a recent statement from Wade reveals that he appreciates what Ball brings to the table. Originally via Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, SB Nation’s Christian Rivas reproduced Wade’s opinion of Ball.
“I have been a big fan of him,” Wade said, via Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell. “I watched him play in college. He has a great feel of the game and he doesn’t play for statistics. He plays to win. He moves the ball and his IQ of the game is incredible. He is athletic. Everyone talks about his shot, but he has been shooting that way his whole life. He can knock shots down. He is good, man, he is a good basketball player.”
When it comes to Lonzo as a player, Wade is correct in saying that Ball’s shot remains the focus for some odd reason. It is strange since the Lakers’ rookie is impactful in many other respects.
However, as of late, criticizing Ball’s shot has been tougher to do. Prior to Saturday’s contest, Ball has gone 8-of-12 from downtown since his return from injury. He improved upon that, knocking down 6-of-10 against the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night. While it is a small sample size, it demonstrates progress.
Let alone that, though, Ball undoubtedly deserves more credit than he sometimes gets. The Miami game was a perfect example of how good he is at sharing the ball. That has been his number one attribute since he entered the NBA.
In addition to the previously mentioned defense, his rebounding often gets overlooked. He has been averaging around seven a game all year long. Lonzo’s rebounding, in quite a few cases, has led to easy fast break opportunities for the purple-and-gold.
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On that note, that is what has made Ball so special to watch this season. His ability to quicken the pace of the Lakers’ offense is unlike any point guard they have had in recent years. He is very instinctive in nature.
Wade grasps the other side of the coin, though. The 12-time All-Star was a high draft pick back in the day as was Ball. As a result, Wade remembers the expectations that come along with that factor.
Bleacher Report’s Scott Polacek transcribed Wade’s thoughts regarding these impossible standards.
“Everyone expects him to come in and be Kobe Bryant, but Kobe Bryant wasn’t Kobe Bryant when he came in. He had to work to it. So he has a long career, hopefully, in front of him and we will see how it shakes out.”
The Bryant comparisons are interesting because, indeed, it took time for Kobe to develop. He was not an immediate sensation. It took some time for Kobe to become recognized as one of the greatest players in league history.
Ball, in fact, has enjoyed a better all-around first year than Bryant had. The former is currently averaging more points, rebounds, assists, and steals than Kobe produced as a rookie. Albeit Ball has gotten way more minutes than Bryant, his all-around game cannot be denied.
Wade is far from the only one who has praised the former UCLA product. He is bound to not be the last, either. Ball’s ability to make his teammates better is simply too hard to not notice at this point.
Sure, Ball may not be getting 20 to 25 points a night. Be that as it may, that is not how he plays the game. He is unselfish and affects the outcome of a contest in various other areas.
That being said, it is understandable as to why Wade is a fan of Lonzo’s style. The Chino Hills native knows how to get everyone involved, which is extremely hard to frown upon.
Even though Ball will probably never score the ball like Bryant or Wade, it may not matter. Zo helps the Lakers in other areas, and that is all that matters.