The REAL Reason Why Lonzo Ball Is Playing BETTER In The NBA (Ft. A New Shot & Zion)
Lonzo Ball has been playing so much better in the NBA. He has a new shot, he has Zion Williamson, but what’s been leading to Lonzo’s better play? #Lonzo #NBA #Jumpshot
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Lonzo has genuinely turned into a solid shooter. Like his shot looks normal. He’s shooting 37% from 3 on 6.2, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. I could tell you that he’s averaging 8.3 assists per game since Zion has returned, but that would just be a number, an empty stat that dismisses so much else.
Since Zion has started playing, Lonzo in 14 games is shooting 39.5% from 3 on 6.1 3s a game. Yeah, that’s elite. Stats are cool, but they still don’t explain the transformation that is Lonzo Ball’s shot. He came into the league with this. It was called one of the most ugly shots in NBA history. I have mentioned before that Lonzo was a solid shooter when he played more minutes shooting 42% from 3 when playing 30+ minutes a game last season. In my video two months ago, I talked about how Lonzo was simply more confident in taking those threes.
Now Lonzo is a legitimate option as a 3 point shooter in the Pelicans offense. It’s not just when he’s open. There are dedicated plays for Lonzo to come off of screens to hit 3 point shots. This Pelicans analyst said it really well. In the last 15 games, Lonzo has been shooting 44% in catch and shoot 3s. And it’s not on a small sample size either, he’s been shooting 4.5 catch and shoot 3s a game. Last season, he shot 31.8% on catch and shoot 3s on 3.2 of them. The main concern with the Lonzo and Zion pairing was the spacing, but that isn’t a problem at all now. I’m all for Zionzo, that might be cringe.
He’s also become confident in bail out situations when the shot clock is ticking down, the offense got no where in the possession, and the Pelicans need a shot. He still likes the step back going left, but now Lonzo also can shooting as the ball handler in a pick and roll. Like he’ll pull from deep if the defender goes underneath the screen. He’s punishing the defense instead of letting them get away with that which prevents a lot of plays and passing lanes from opening up.
If you want to focus on the beginning of the season, I’ve talked about how the Pelicans were a mess, they had the most lineup rotations leading to less chemistry, Lonzo was in and out of the starting lineup, but I think it’s more relevant to see how Lonzo is playing with Zion. Lonzo had a stretch of 5 games before Zion returned in which he was averaging 19.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 6.2 rebounds on 51% from the field and 40.5% from 3. That gave Lonzo the confidence to be more of a demanding floor general than a passive floor general. They went 10-5 when Lonzo returned to the starting lineup in December after being horrible before. So when Zion returned, Lonzo took a step back and the Pelicans continued to win behind Zion, but that’s the beauty of Lonzo. He doesn’t need to be in the spotlight to do what’s right for his team and most importantly his teammates. He’s one of those rare breeds that wants his teammates to thrive, not just pass for an assist, he wants them to find their groove.
This shooting has opened his game up for more drives. Defenders have to respect Lonzo as a floor spacer. All of this is possible because of this respect Lonzo as a shooter and his confidence to just go into the paint.
For the season, Ball has tallied 35 assists to Williamson, by far the most of any New Orleans player and the same amount as Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram combined. That’s 2.5 assists per game. That’s higher than any year of LeBron to DWade, LeBron to Kevin Love (wow) LeBron to AD this year is 2.8 assists per game, that’s some special company. Some of this is due to the fact that Lonzo and Williamson often rotate out of the game at the same time; Ball plays more minutes alongside Zion than any other Pelicans player. This is the floor general part I was talking about earlier. Lonzo will get Zion involved. It might not always result in an assist, but it keeps Zion in rhythm during his time on the court. I didn’t mention Lonzo’s defense or his passing because those are this great solid parts of him. It isn’t that he’s gotten better in those areas, but that’s part of his whole game that make him so much more than just your typical point guard. His presence really has helped the Pelicans, as shown by the Pelicans winning when Lonzo starts.
I’m not saying that he magically transformed into the 20 and 10 guy we thought he would be coming out of college, but it would be blasphemy to ignore all the huge improvements that Lonzo has made in his game that have drastically changed what he brings on to the court.