"If I had to play myself, I'd probably want to fight me too" - Patrick Beverley
Not to make this about Patrick Beverley, but Lonzo Ball's first NBA game was about Patrick Beverley. In fact, if you fast-forward 20 years from now and bring up "remember Lonzo's first game?"...you're still gonna have to bring up Patrick Beverley.
Ball's numbers were paltry for a much-hyped 2nd-overall pick (even excluding the hype machine created by his father). In 29 minutes, he scored one time, on one wide-open three pointer.
He did rack up 4 assists and 9 rebounds, as well as a steal and a block. Considering the type of pressure he faced all game, it's surprising he escaped with only 2 turnovers.
For comparison's sake, #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz debuted with 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 18 minutes, while #3 overall Jason Tatum debuted on possibly the biggest opening stage you could have with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists in 37 minutes.
Luke Walton commented after the game: "It was good for (Lonzo). Beverley is as good as anyone, if not the best, at the point guard position of getting into other people and getting under their skin. I thought Zo kept his composure."
Candace Parker said it best on Inside the NBA last night, Lonzo's lackadaisical "composure" may ultimately work against him from a competitiveness standpoint if an emotional lack of response occurs like last night. Beverley was all up under him the whole game, including knocking him over, and bumping into him in an intense defensive stance while Lonzo was simply trying to adjust his jersey. The most you got out of Lonzo was a 'Come on man' plea. In the future, Lonzo's going to need to dial up the intensity to elevate his game on this level.
Beverley tweeted on Sep 15th that he would be the first to guard Lonzo and planned to make his life hell....well he certainly delivered on his promise. Lonzo looked frustrated at best, with no real attempt to go back at Pat Bev other than a nice crossover and floater early in the game. First game jitters and college-to-NBA acclimation aside, Lonzo will need to show some type of edge going forward or there's a good chance opponents will try and "get up" for a match up against the rookie guard.
Lonzo's next assignment is Eric Bledsoe, who is another physical guard, but not as pesky as a defender as Beverley. Look for Lonzo to try and get his rhythm going against Phoenix tonight.