2018 Player Capsule: Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball’s first season in the NBA saw him immediately become a fundamental piece of the Lakers’ team identity.
His fast-paced, versatile game was indicative of how the Lakers want to play moving forward.
Ball instantly established himself as one of the most gifted passers in the league, flinging 80-foot outlets, cross-court dimes and more. If he had played six more games, he would have qualified for the NBA assists leaderboard and ranked eighth with 7.2 per game.
Brandon Ingram & Lonzo Ball impress in a heavyweight fight.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) December 15, 2017
B.I.: 26 pts (10/15 FG), 6 ast
Zo: 13 pts, 11 ast, 8 reb
Play of the night
Ingram goes under the screen & still contests LeBron's 3. Lonzo instantly whips a 90-foot dime off the glass.
: https://t.co/pLXOrOIKkL pic.twitter.com/4Fg7qezBpp
Ball also constantly worked on the boards, averaging 6.9 rebounds, which would have ranked third among guards if qualified. His presence on the glass was essential to his ability to get the transition offense running, as the Lakers’ 17.5 fast-break points per game were second-most in the league.
In fact, Ball had the third-fastest individual pace of any player in the NBA.
He was also an excellent defender, particularly off the ball. Lonzo constantly hunted in passing lanes and would have placed ninth in steals (1.69) if qualified.
He was particularly sneaky after the All-Star Break, as he averaged the NBA’s second-most steals during that last leg of the season (2.06).
Lonzo Ball leads the league in both steals (2.6) and deflections (4.3) for the month of March.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) March 22, 2018
Constantly jumping passing lanes, sneaking up for inbounds passes and general free safety-like ballhawking. pic.twitter.com/RRXit5RNrK
Of course, most of the attention around Ball this season was centered around his shooting struggles. The 20-year-old hit just 36.0 percent from the field, 30.5 on 3-pointers and 45.1 at the free throw line.
Ball — who averaged 10.2 points — was told by the front office to “perfect” his unorthodox shooting stroke rather than abandon it.
The 6-foot-6 point guard did have his streaks of hot shooting and was about league average on spot-up attempts, but will need to hit more consistently moving forward.
Gotta give some credit to Julius Randle, who had a part in all 3 of Lonzo’s clutch 3-pointers.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) March 4, 2018
• Screens Ginobili, who goes under.
• Draws Ball’s defender into the paint & kicks out for the assist.
• One more screen to give Zo just enough room. pic.twitter.com/sXuCgHy7UE
By the Numbers
13: Games needed to record the youngest triple-double in NBA history*. The 20-year-old had 19 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds against Milwaukee.
29: Points scored against Phoenix in the second game of his career. Also had 11 rebounds and nine assists.
58.6: Percentage shot on step-back jumpers. Ball was especially accurate on step-back 3-pointers (12-of-18).
*Later broken by Markelle Fultz.
Lonzo Ball has now hit 9 of his last 11 step-back jumpers.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) March 4, 2018
Definitely his most comfortable shot. pic.twitter.com/f6q9tKXdrm
President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson made his expectations clear to Ball, saying that this offseason will be “pretty much the biggest summer of my life.”
Ball is embracing this challenge, and has a list of skills that he intends to work on.
One mandate from the front office is to pack some more muscle onto his frame, as that added strength will allow him to both play more physically and stay on the court after missing 30 games to injury.
Ball has also been tasked with improving his individual offense, as defenses were more worried about his ability to set up teammates than him getting his own buckets.
He said that his “main focus is scoring from all levels, especially from the pick-and-roll,” which means adding more pull-up jumpers and floaters to his arsenal.