USC gets rare win at UCLA Wife feared her husband Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Even with a smaller sample size, Walton said Ball “keeps showing more and more of what can make him really special.”“When he is on the court, his team is better,” Walton said. “The ball is moving, they are getting good shots, he is in control, he loves the moment.”Walton and the Lakers saw that regularly throughout the summer and the limited preseason.“It is just good to see it happen more and more,” Walton said, “and it is more of who he is rather than random coincidence.”Every star needs a heel, however, and in the opener that will be Beverley. A first-team all-defensive guard last year in Houston, Beverley was part of the Clippers’ return in the Chris Paul trade.“Pat Beverley hounding him all over the floor is going to be a great learning experience for him,” Walton said.Of course, Lakers fans won’t be tuning in on Thursday because they want to see great learning experiences. They want to see Ball excel from the start of his career.And if he doesn’t?“You just learn from it,” he said. “It’s 82 games, you can’t dwell on one game or you’re going to have a bunch more bad games in a row. After it happens, learn from it and just move on.”Walton said Ball would not be on a minutes restriction in his debut, at least not because of his sprained ankle. The Lakers researched what range of minutes other high lottery picks have played in recent years and developed a target range.“Most young top picks aren’t playing more than 30-35 minutes,” Walton said, “and that is the elite of the elite top young players so that is kind of where we are trying to keep our young guys in at a maximum.”It remained unclear who else will start next to Ball in the backcourt with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended for the first two games and the starting power forward spot allegedly still up for grabs despite a strong sense around the team that Larry Nance Jr. will open the season ahead of Julius Randle on the depth chart.“Everything’s always on the debate table,” Walton said. “I have a good idea of who’s starting but that can change.”NOTESThe Lakers signed Vander Blue to their remaining two-way contract. The D-League MVP last season with the L.A. D-Fenders, Blue was on the Lakers training camp roster and also starred on their Summer League entry. … Randle (intercostal strain) was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice and is listed as probable for Thursday. … Josh Hart was diagnosed with bursitis in his left Achilles tendon and is questionable. EL SEGUNDO — He dazzled in a practice uniform during summer league, playing against other NBA neophytes. There were those hoping to hang on, to break through, or, for his real peers, show off what made them high draft picks.At UCLA, it was other college kids.For Lonzo Ball, the matchups have never been like they will be starting on Thursday, when, with just 57 minutes of preseason experience under his belt, the point guard makes his long-awaited Lakers debut in the season opener against the Clippers.Related Articles “He has never played in this type of game before,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “where the guards and the players are this good and this strong, and he is going against grown men. A team full of them.” Dogs at Wilson Park Pet of the Week Family has unique solution to gas prices AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThat doesn’t mean Walton is worried.“He will be fine,” he said. “I think he will rise to the challenge like he has his whole life.”The first weeks of Ball’s rookie season will be full of tests both large and small. A debut matchup against Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley could easily be characterized as rookie hazing.“I have been watching the NBA for a long time,” said Ball, 19. “He definitely picks up full court and plays hard. It is going to be a lot of fun.”The sprained ankle that kept Ball out of the final four exhibition games also reduced the number of opportunities the coaching staff had to evaluate Ball.