Is Lonzo Ball Improving At All? Lakers Rookie Had the Worst Weekend of his NBA Career Against Rockets and Nuggets

Life in the National Basketball Association isn't getting any easier for Lonzo Ball.

Ball, the Lakers rookie point guard and their great hope for the middle future, at least, had one of the more traumatic weekends of his NBA career so far as his team lost again, and again, to the Nuggets and the Rockets. The Lakers have lost five games in a row, which is bad news even in a season when losing is mostly okay, if it comes with promise attached.

On Saturday, against the Nuggets, Ball registered nine points, nine rebounds, nine assists and five turnovers as the Lakers collapsed in the fourth quarter. That game ended in a scuffle as the Lakers rushed to defend Ball from perceived mockery by Jamal Murray. Murray, who led all scorers with 28 points, dribbled round Ball on the final play.

The Lakers didn't take kindly to Jamal Murray dribbling around Lonzo to end the game.

— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 3, 2017

Deadspin went in hard on Ball after that Nuggets game, pointing out that the Lakers had fewer points (one) than Ball had technical fouls (one) from 3:56 of the fourth quarter. The Nuggets scored 15 unanswered points to end the game. That's not all on Ball, mind, but he is going to be the focus when disasterpieces like this happen. "About young Lonzo: apart from here and there looking like an interesting NBA prospect—at this point, "interesting NBA prospect" is an extremely generous way of saying "he throws some nice hit-ahead passes in semi-transition"—Ball is having a downright nightmarish rookie campaign," Chris Thompson wrote on Saturday.

Thompson thinks Ball has a "debilitating lack of confidence as a scorer". Sunday's game against a Championship-chasing Rockets team could have been a way to address that perception. But Ball didn't make a field goal against James Harden, Chris Paul and company. In 22 minutes he finished with two points and three assists on 0-4 shooting from the field. Harden led the surging Rockets on a training exercise with 36 points and nine assists. Paul shut Ball down, and this time Skip Bayless piled in. "Another one of those nongames for Lonzo," Bayless wrote on Twitter. "Missed his first shot, a 3, then just disengaged. Went passive. Often let others bring the ball up court. Like he didn't want to play. Hard to figure."

At this point in the season, Ball's play is provoking uncomfortable questions. Sure, the Lakers are here to learn from teams like the Rockets. But that can only last for so long. Ball needs to find a way to start scoring or the cries of people like Bayless are going to turn into screams of righteousness.