Matt Ryan on holding onto NBA dreams amid uncertain times: ‘I was convincing myself that I was the best shooter in the world’

Jonathan Sherman
4 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers small forward Matt Ryan played the role of hero in his team’s overtime win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

With the Lakers down 111-108 with just 1.3 seconds left in regulation, Austin Reaves was looking for a player to pass the ball to for a last-second shot. He hoisted a crosscourt pass to Ryan, who caught the ball and sent off an off-balance shot towards the basket.

It went in, and the Lakers were then able to squeeze out a win in overtime.

Ryan was the hero of the moment, and in an interview with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the 25-year-old sharpshooter looked back on his ability to continue to hold onto his NBA dreams during times of uncertainty. He also touched on how amazing it has been to play alongside Lakers superstar LeBron James.

“When I was home alone, and I was in a gym alone, just shooting for hours and hours a day, like, I was convincing myself that I was the best shooter in the world,” Ryan said. “Now I come here, and I’m playing with the best player in the world.”

Though Ryan is not an NBA rookie, he might as well be. His only NBA action prior to this season came in one Boston Celtics game last season. He logged five minutes in a game last season, finishing the game with three points and one steal.

He’s gotten a lot more run so far this season and appeared in five Lakers games, averaging 14 minutes per game. He logged the most playing time in a single game in his NBA career in the win over the Pelicans and scored 11 points in the process.

Ryan also touched on some of the difficulties he’s faced on the court since joining the Lakers.

“Every day I’ve got to come in and prove I’m the best shooter in the gym,” Ryan said. “The biggest difference between what I’ve experienced so far in the NBA compared to prior teams is just the trust between teammates. Being on the Lakers now and playing with such prestigious players, I find myself open a lot but not getting the ball because the trust isn’t there yet.

“Playing with LeBron, who has had just so much success in his career and has had success with shooters, I think a time is coming where he’s really gonna look at me, like one of those next really good shooters that he has. At least, that’s what I can hope for.”

Though Ryan’s heroics have made him the hero of the moment, he is still going to have to continue to prove that he belongs in the league night in and night out.

He’ll get his next chance to do just that on Friday night as the Lakers try to turn their current two-game winning streak into a three-game win streak against the Utah Jazz.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.