(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Lonzo's Rebounding Leads to Effective Offense
Even before he was drafted by the Lakers, most around the NBA already knew: Lonzo Ball is at his best in the open floor with the ball in his hands.
And the most effective way to create those opportunities, according to associate head coach Brian Shaw, is for the 6-foot-6 point guard to crash the defensive glass.
Ball did just that in Sunday’s win over Denver, racking up 16 boards — the most by a rookie guard in 17 years — en route to his second triple-double in eight days.
“He attacks the rebound where it’s going,” head coach Luke Walton said at Monday’s practice. “He’s not waiting for the ball to come to him. He goes and gets it and understands angles.”
As Shaw predicted, Ball has been much more involved overall when he is focused on the glass.
In three games with double-digit rebounds, Ball is averaging 20 points, 13 boards, 11 assists and two blocks, while shooting 46 percent from the field and 44 percent on 3-pointers.
Ball credited his success on the boards to having big men box out for him. But he also mentioned that it stems from his role on his youth basketball teams as the oldest of three brothers.
“I was kind of forced to rebound at a young age,” Ball said. “I was usually at the back in the press of the 2-3 zone, because my brothers were smaller than me. So I usually got most of the rebounds.”
Now in the NBA, Ball is already third among all point guards in rebounds per game (7.1). This part of his game has been crucial for the Lakers’ high-tempo offense, which boasts the third-fastest pace in the league.
“It starts the fast-break a lot easier when I get the ball,” Ball said. “I don’t have to wait for big men to give me it. Just get it and go.”
Below are a few examples of how the offense thrives when Ball grabs the defensive board. Each clip is from one of his games with double-figure rebounds.
In the second game of his career, Ball took advantage of a porous Phoenix defense, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Here, he breaks out a couple of his trademark full-court outlet passes. Neither gets him credit for an assist (or he would have had a triple-double), but both are examples of a unique skill that creates scoring opportunities.
On the first play, he immediately whips his head around on the free throw board and fires to Corey Brewer, who bounces the ball along to Brandon Ingram for the and-1 dunk.
Then Ball launches an 80-foot pass to Julius Randle, who has an easy bucket if not for a foul by the Phoenix defender.
Also in that game, Ball winds up with a long rebound, putting him on the fast-break with the majority of the defense behind him.
The 20-year-old attacks the rim himself, and center Tyson Chandler has no choice but to foul in order to avoid a layup.
*Note: The broadcast feed doesn’t show the full rebound.
A couple weeks later, Ball recorded the youngest triple-double in NBA history on a trip to Milwaukee.
While he finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists, Ball did not get a dime on his quickest decision of the night.
Ingram protects the rim on an excellent defensive possession, and the ball goes right to Lonzo, who possesses it for less than a second.
He flips it right back to Ingram, already in full sprint, and a scrambling Bucks defense is forced to foul him on the break.
In his most recent game, it was Ball doing the swatting, as he rejects Emmanuel Mudiay, snags the loose board and pushes the ball ahead himself.
Two Nuggets try to stop his dribble, but he avoids both and gets it to a sprinting Josh Hart, who completes the play with a nice finish at the rim.
Then there is this 30-second sequence that encapsulates his 11-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist night against Denver.
It starts off with another swat on Mudiay, as Lonzo simply takes the ball away from Denver’s point guard.
Like in the Milwaukee clip, he doesn’t hang onto it for long, flipping to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who runs the 3-on-2 fast-break, ending with a Julius Randle layup.
The Lakers get another block on the next possession and Ball tracks down the rebound. He goes back to the outlet pass this time, immediately hitting KCP at half court.
With two Lakers against one Nugget, Caldwell-Pope serves up the easy oop to Ingram for a 23-point lead that L.A. would never surrender.