The first test for Ball will be making the adjustment toward playing against “grown men” such as Clippers guard Patrick Beverley.
“Just the strength,” Ball said of what could be his biggest challenge now that the season starts. “It’s grown men now, so every night, night in, night out, they going to be strong.”
“I have been watching the NBA for a long time, [Beverley] definitely picks up full court and plays hard. It is going to be a lot of fun. He is going to go at me, I am going to go at him and it is going to be that.”
Ball played in just two preseason games after spraining his left ankle. But he returned to practice in the past few days and will make his much-anticipated debut. The rookie also said he will be wearing his Big Baller Brand Zo2 Prime Remix shoes after mixing up what he wore during the preseason between his brand and Nike.
The Lakers are excited to see what their franchise point guard can do healthy.
“Obviously, it is going to be a big learning curve — he has never played in this type of game before where the guards and the players are this good and this strong and he is going against grown men, a team full of them,” head coach Luke Walton said. “I think he will be fine. I think he will rise to the challenge like he has his whole life.”
“We had him around all summer and we started to see who he was, he just keeps showing more and more of what can make him really special,” Walton added. “When he is on the court, his team is better, the ball is moving, they are getting good shots, he is in control, he loves the moment, he hits big shots and it is just good to see it happen more and more and it is more of who he is rather than random coincidence.”
Ball had said at the start of camp that he probably will have a target on his back with all the attention surrounding the rookie this offseason. Walton — who said he may keep Ball’s minutes to between 30 and 35 minutes due to the research on how to keep their young players healthy and not because of Ball’s recent ankle injury — expects Beverley, one of the best defenders in the league, to hound Ball.
“Do what works,” Ball said of how he will adjust if Beverley is blanketing him. “I can’t see the future, so I don’t know how it’s going to happen, just know he’s going to play hard.”
Ball said the most progress he has made in his game in camp is his “mental” game.
“NBA’s a lot different from college, there’s a lot more terminology, a lot more stuff,” Ball said. “You’ve got the 2.9 seconds in the key, different types of coverages on ball screens, so it’s real detailed. So definitely helped a lot.”
Ball said his family will be well represented in the stands for his debut.
“It is going to be a lot of fun,” Ball said. “Just do everything I can to help the name on my jersey get a win and take it one game at a time.”