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Kevin Durant: Lonzo Ball 'still figuring it out' as a rookie

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have come to the defense of struggling Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.

"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 (hand contusion) and Durant (ankle sprain) are listed as questionable when the Golden State Warriors meet Ball and the new-look Lakers for the first time this season on Wednesday at Staples Center.

Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, is averaging 8.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. However, because he has struggled mightily with his shooting -- 30.9 percent from the field, 24.5 percent from 3-point range -- he's been heavily criticized.

"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. 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."

Much has been made of Ball's elongated shooting motion. He brings the ball from his left hip before releasing, often allowing defenders to recover for blocks or to contest his shots.

"He's not the first person [that] the peanut gallery kind of wants to chime in and tell people how to play the game," Curry said. "At the end of the day, he's made shots shooting like that before. I'm pretty sure he'll figure out what that means in the NBA game, but that's for him to decide."

Ball's boisterous dad, LaVar, said earlier in the year that his son was better than Curry. The two-time MVP was asked whether those comments will serve as added motivation for Wednesday's game.

"No," Curry said. "It's more comic relief for me. You need that from time to time."

Lonzo, meanwhile, believes Curry is "the best shooter of all time."

"I mean, watching as a fan, he is great to watch," Ball said Tuesday. "One of the most exciting players in the league. In my opinion, the best shooter of all time. He can shoot off the catch or dribble. He is one of the best point guards in the league."

Ball said Curry's long-range shooting made the distances he and his brothers shoot at more acceptable.

"Yeah, he is kind of the first one to do it in the NBA like that and just kind of ran with it from there," Ball said.

"I think we shot it like that before him but he came into the NBA and started doing it so everybody saw him do it so then, at first we were kind of getting criticized for it. But after he pretty much opened the gateway, everybody was cool with it."

Ball said he's looking forward to facing off against Curry if the latter is healthy enough to go Wednesday for Golden State.

Information from ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk was used in this report.
Author: Chris Haynes, ESPN

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