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Through two preseason games, rookie point guard Lonzo Ball’s scoring numbers won’t jump off the page.
But the Los Angeles Lakers and its players already know what they have in Ball — a new franchise leader who is vastly mature for his age.
Ball has filled up the stat sheet in his first two exhibition games and already showcased his acclaimed IQ of the game.
The second overall pick in the 2017 draft registered five points, seven rebounds and eight assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the preseason opener, and finished with eight points, three rebounds and four assists versus the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center Monday night.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton believes Ball, 19, is up to the task of being the new cornerstone of the Lakers despite Ball still being a teenager.
Walton says Ball’s unique style of play and the demeanor he exhibits off the court allows players to gravitate towards him.
“We need him [Lonzo] to be [our leader],” Walton told the Washington Post after the Lakers’ 113-107 loss to the Nuggets. “The way he plays the game of basketball, everywhere he goes, if he went to a rec center, people would follow him because he makes people better. That’s what great leaders do.”
Veteran small forward Luol Deng echoed Walton’s statement, saying Ball’s quiet and humble temperament is profound. Deng knows when he sees a young talented point guard coming into the fold, as he was teammates with Derrick Rose when Rose became the youngest MVP (22-years-old) of all-time with the Chicago Bulls in 2011.
“I’m really impressed with him,” Deng said. “First of all, his IQ on the basketball court, for his age, he sees a lot of things a lot of people don’t see. That’s a great quality to have in a point guard.
“But off the court is where I’m surprised the most. The kid works really hard. He’s in the gym working on his game. Very respectful, very quiet, studying the game every time we are in the locker room. But definitely you can tell he’s serious about the game.”