After a sloppy start in Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers launched their four-game road trip with a defeat. Thankfully, the Lakers get back on the court the very next night with a trip to the nation's capital on Thursday.
The Washington Wizards should have Thursday's game circled on their calendars because the Lakers handed Scott Brooks' team its first loss of the season in an overtime thriller at Staples Center. Since then, the Wizards have proceeded to lose four of their next six games and settled on a 5-5 start to the season.
The Lakers are at 5-6 after the defeat in Boston, and staying within touching distance of .500 would be a welcome sight for Luke Walton and his staff considering the Lakers are currently starting two rookies and a 20-year-old in Brandon Ingram.
After facing Kyrie Irving on Wednesday night, Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has the unenviable task of picking up John Wall on Thursday. The NBA is relentless, especially for guards, and Ball's education is currently in hyper-drive.
Unfortunately, Ball has been unable to find any shooting rhythm and enters Thursday's game shooting 22 percent from the field and 12 percent from beyond the three-point line over his last four games. Plainly, Ball has been awful from a shooting stand point, especially from distance. On Wednesday in Boston, Ball missed four of his five three-point attempts, meaning the rookie has only converted two of his last 17 attempts from distance entering Thursday's game.
Of course, Ball is not a one-dimensional player, evidenced by the last time the Lakers played the Wizards. In that meeting, Ball missed all five of his three-point attempts and only finished with six points on 2-11 shooting, but the former UCLA Bruin managed 10 assists, eight rebounds, one steal, one block and only one turnover in the overtime victory.
While the assists, rebounds and defense stand out as positives for the rookie, the fact that Ball is not egregiously turning the ball over is probably the most promising sign that the rookie is not in over his head. Over his past five games, Ball is averaging only 1.0 turnover per game, and the Lakers have been competitive in all five of those games.
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Wall, who is considered one of the best point guards in the NBA, averages nearly four turnovers per game and is only shooting 28.6 percent from three-point land for the 2017-18 season. So, while Ball's shooting struggles are worth monitoring, perhaps they're a little overblown considering the 20-year-old is only 11 games into his rookie season.
Along with Wall, the Wizards offer a scoring assassin in Bradley Beal. Beal leads the Wizards with 25.4 points per game and scored a game-high 28 points when the Wizards were in LA. The 24-year-old is coming off a series of hot shooting performances that have the no. 3 pick in the 2012 draft averaging 34.3 points over the first four games of November.
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers look to get back to .500 against a .500 team with an early tip-off. The Lakers and Wizards tip-off on Thursday evening at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.