Lonzo in Slo-Mo: A Slowed-Down Look at Ball's Playmaking
Sometimes passers can’t be fully appreciated at full speed. Especially in transition, it can be difficult to appreciate the subtle moves made to get teammates open looks.
Lonzo Ball had several of those moments during his five-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist, five-steal performance in Tuesday’s win over the Sacramento Kings.
While the rookie shot just 2-of-8 from the field, he was clearly the Lakers’ most dangerous offensive weapon because of his ability to make plays for others.
Here, we slow down a few of Ball’s best plays to half-speed, in order to take a closer look at the nuances of his performance.
The Lakers’ first play of the game was a testament to coach Luke Walton’s play construction, as the team began with an elevator screen that led straight to an open Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 3-pointer.
But Ball is the one who keeps the defense honest by taking a jab step toward the right before delivering to KCP just as he runs through Julius Randle and Brook Lopez’s double screen (closing the elevator doors).
This play relies on crisp timing, so Ball’s ability to sell the fake and get it back on time in crucial here.
Ball goes back to Caldwell-Pope on this next play, but instead of a scripted half-court play, it’s a savvy dish in transition.
The 20-year-old is already one of the best fast-break distributors in the game, and this one shows why.
Ball picks up the steal and has a chance to immediately pass to KCP to push the break. But he knows that players move faster without the ball, so he gives an extra dribble in order for his target to hit his stride.
The bit of hesitation pays off, as he gets KCP in a full sprint, and the vet puts a nice finish on the layup.
This one is such a simple pass that it can be difficult to appreciate what Ball does to make the play happen.
First, he pushes the ball in transition (note the shot clock), taking advantage of an unset Sacramento defense.
The Kings clearly aren’t ready to defend the pick-and-roll, as seen as Zach Randolph stumbles back into the paint while De’Aaron Fox jumps at the first inkling of Ball potentially shooting a 3.
This split-second shot fake is all Ball needs to flip it to Lopez for a wide-open triple. A clean look like that can go a long way into getting a guy in rhythm, as seen by Brook’s 18 points and five treys against the Kings.
This one is the trademark Lonzo Ball play: a full-court outlet pass.
Third among point guards in rebounds (7.1 per game), Ball gets good positioning on Vince Carter and easily snags the board.
The key part of the way Ball works the glass is how he turns his head around mid-air and scans the court ahead.
He locates a streaking Julius Randle and fires a perfect bullet pass the second he hits the floor, leading to the layup.
Can't get enough of this play by Lonzo.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 10, 2018
• First he beats two Kings for the offensive board.
• Then he pulls up from mid-range, but it's a diversion.
• He had already spotted Ingram cutting before he left the 3-point arc, & feeds B.I. the oop.
: https://t.co/BiEOiM4aXK pic.twitter.com/rcxDCkgmJg
This last one should first be enjoyed at full speed, as Ball beats two Kings for an offensive rebound before settling the offense down and starting up a pick-and-roll.
But as Lonzo goes around the screen, notice how he turns his head to the wing, where he notices that Brandon Ingram has a clear path cutting to the rim.
In order to ensure success (and put a little flash on it), Ball rises up for a decoy mid-range jumper. But the entire time he is just trying to trick the defense, and does just that.
As he rises up for his “shot,” he floats a perfect lob to Ingram for the jam.