Lonzo Ball has come under more pressure thanks to repeated lofty comments by his father, LaVar, but his new coach with the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t believe this will be as big of an issue as many think.
“I think it will make it more challenging, a little bit, but I think every top draft pick that comes in has a target on their back,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, per Baxter Holmes and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com.
“The best players in this league want to set the tone with these young players early, to let them know what it’s like here,” he added. “I know when I was a young player, I had a target on my back from my own teammates because of things my dad said, but it ended up working out.”
Immediately after Lonzo was selected with the No. 2 pick of the 2017 NBA draft, LaVar said on ESPN: “Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year.”
The elder Ball has been pushing his son to the Lakers throughout the predraft process, even having the themed shoes ready for sale quickly after the announcement:
Of course, leading the squad to the playoffs would be quite an achievement. Los Angeles has gone four straight years without a postseason appearance and only won 26 games a year ago.
Even with the addition of Brook Lopez and quality young players around him, this team might still be a year or so away from contention.
Still, the Lakers think highly of the young point guard.
“He’ll help improve our culture with the way he plays, the way he passes, his selfless nature, and that’s why we took him,” Walton said.
The coach clearly understands the pressure coming from a parent as the son of NBA legend Bill Walton. He is also known for saying some outlandish things, something that has only continued in recent years.
As long as Ball does his job on the court, no one will mind his father’s words from the stands.
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