The REAL Reason Why Lonzo Ball Is Playing BETTER In The NBA Preseason (Ft. Zion, Pelicans, Shots)
Lonzo Ball has changed from his Lakers days and this is what changed #NBA #Lonzo
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Lonzo Ball was the number 2 pick in the 2017 draft to the Lakers, but never seemed like himself offensively. Now on a new team, Lonzo has changed, and here’s what’s different. Lonzo Ball has had an interesting preseason filled with highlights and a different Lonzo. He’s changed his shot. And now he’s throwing lobs to Zion, but there’s a lot more to him that’s changed than just his shot and new team so I wanted to break all this down.
Lonzo Ball was sort of an afterthought in the Lakers offense last year. With LeBron James being added to the team, obviously, most of the offensive load was given to him, but it didn’t help that Luke Walton was inconsistently playing Lonzo Ball whether it was weird starts or being in and out of the closing lineup in the 4th quarter.
The Pelicans are different because they need Lonzo Ball. Lonzo is a key piece that the Pelicans and the coach Alvin Gentry is relying on for the Pelicans success. Taking a look at just the stats, averaging only 9.5 points and 6 assists on only 32.4% shooting from the field and 30% from 3 isn’t anything special and is actually lower than what he was averaging last season at 9.9 points at 40.6% from the field and 32.4% from 3. But it’s not his percentages that matter right now, it’s the change in how Lonzo’s approaching the game. For one, Lonzo is taking more 3s. This preseason, he’s averaging 5.8 attempts per game in only 22.6 minutes a game which is higher than the 4.9 he took in 30 minutes a game last season and last preseason he only took 2 a game. Even if the shooting percentage is lower, what matters is that he feels confident enough to take 3s within the confines of this offense. What that means is that the defense can’t simply relax when he has the ball in his hands, they can’t drop down to cover the passing lanes. Lonzo has been punishing defenders for going under screens and so now defenses have to step up.
Lonzo isn’t just dribbling around the perimeter in a half-court setting. He’s actually driving to the rim. He’s using the pick and just bursting past. A lot of times in his last few seasons, Lonzo would hold on to the ball at the 3 point line and look to immediately pass. He would wait until someone got open and thread the needle to get it to them. Lonzo has always been a great passer, but on the Pelicans, he’s forcing the defense to react to him with the ball instead of the defense just guarding the passing lane. And while Lonzo finishing the layup is a great use of his size and length, driving and using his passing vision to find the open man is by far what makes Lonzo so special. Some of Lonzo’s passes Lonzo’s drives gave an open look that was either disrupted by a foul or led to a whole defensive shift.
Lonzo already has a special chemistry with Zion Williamson, you know the guy that’s averaging 23 points on 71% shooting from the field and also doing this. Zion’s already said that “I don’t think he’s thrown a bad pass yet.”
One of the main reasons Lonzo and Zion work so well together is because of the timing of Lonzo’s passes. A lot of passers tend to pass the ball when the player is open so that player doesn’t need to do anything and just immediately take the shot. Lonzo’s different. He likes to pass the ball a little earlier, in rhythm but right before they have to make a move into the shot. This is perfect for a player like Zion. Lonzo gets him the ball just as Zion’s beginning to cut, Zion gets the ball in stride and either takes the opening all the way to the rim or if the opening closes, puts a move on to get to the rim. As I mentioned in my previous video on why Zion is so good in the preseason, no one can stay in front of him if he gets a 2 step head start. If Lonzo was to pass it later, Zion wouldn’t get to take advantage of his speed at that size. Zion moves off the ball so much that it gives Lonzo another option.
The Pelicans are another chance and as of right now, I think the most important part of all this is that Lonzo is confident. The feelings of pressure, of disbelief, of all the front office lies, all that are gone. Along with that Lonzo had a more healthy offseason which allowed him to work. So yeah, Lonzo Ball’s stats might not seem all that different, but what he’s doing on the court is completely different from those Lakers days. It’s more of the original Lonzo Ball that had the nation in a craze when he got drafted, and I think that’s a good thing. But what do you think? How will Lonzo perform? Will he ever be an all-star?