In Stephen Curry‘s first two months in the NBA, he averaged 10.2 points on 44 percent shooting (39.5 percent from three) and 5.4 assists per game. He played well, but nobody was watching him thinking “this is a future two-time MVP and leader of a championship team.” It took some time for Curry to become Curry.
Curry has seen the ups-and-downs of Lonzo Ball as a rookie, and would like him to get some time out from under the spotlight to develop as well. Here is what he said at practice Tuesday, as the Warriors geared up to face the Lakers on Wednesday night on ESPN. Quote via Chris Haynes of ESPN.
“He’s a rookie,” Curry said of Ball after practice Tuesday. “He’s going through ups and downs like every rookie has. Whether you’re highly touted or not, it’s all a learning experience and you’re trying to find your way and be comfortable. …
“I’ve always said he’s a great talent. I think he loves to play basketball, so he’ll be able to fight through all that and have a great career. I hope you didn’t judge me off my first 20 games in the league.”
Curry (swollen hand) and Kevin Durant (sprained ankle) are both questionable for the game against the Lakers.
They are also on the same page about giving Ball time to develop.
“Lonzo is just playing like a rookie, as far as learning the game, finding the ins and outs of the game,” Durant said. “It’s slowing down for him. Picking and choosing his spots. He’s still figuring it out. He’s 19? That’s what any 19-year-old would go through in the pros (Note: Ball turned 20 last month). It’s just a matter of him being in L.A., where the eyes and scrutiny are on him. He’s playing like he should play as far as learning the game and adjusting on the fly.”
Ball averages 8.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game, plus he has helped the Lakers play faster and more aggressively (at times), and his defense has been better than expected. However, he is struggling mightily with his shot — 30.9 percent overall, 24.5 percent from three, 43.8 percent at the rim, less than 23 percent on uncontested jumpers (no defender within four feet) — and that has led to a lot of questions about how good he is and can be. Ball is clearly in his own head with his shot now, he is shooting just 42.9 percent on free throws (he hit 67.3 percent at UCLA last year).
Thanks to his bombastic father, Magic Johnson calling him a leader and face of the franchise before he stepped on the court, an impressive Summer League, and a fan base desperate for its next star and a return to glory, the hype machine spun out of control on Ball. Too much was expected too early. Ball is a better shooter than this, how good is up for debate but he will improve. He just needs time. Fans may not fully grasp that, but Curry and Durant do.