2017 Draft Profile: Lonzo Ball

Point Guard | UCLA
by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider

Class: Freshman
Ht: 6-foot-6
Wt: 190 pounds
2016-17 Stats: 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals

How He Operates

Lonzo Ball is a classic point guard with a new school vibe. Ball, who led the nation in assist average (7.6), has elite end-to-end speed with the ball and always has his head up, looking for teammates. His decision-making is solid and he almost always picks out the right type of pass, delivering it on-time and on-target. Can pass effectively with either hand. Ball can pass teammates open, but doesn’t take a ton of unnecessary chances. He’ll make the simple play when it presents itself as the best option. He’s a plug-and-play point guard that can run an NBA offense right now. One concern: Ball had only 49 possessions of pick-and-roll. UCLA ran a high-octane, constant motion offense that ranked second in the nation at 89.8 points per game and led the nation in assists per game (21.4), but shied away from too much screen-roll action. Fifty-two percent of Ball’s possessions were in transition and spot-up shooting opportunities. It means he’ll need plenty of repetition in pick-and-roll situations, which is the standard action of every team in the NBA. As such, his passing out of that action will be a work-in-progress.

Ball’s unorthodox jump shot grabs as much attention as any other part of his game. It is not textbook – the left elbow flies away and he’s got a long windup to get to the top of his release. However, it is a quick release. ESPN’s Sport Science clocked it at just two one-hundredths of a second slower than Golden State’s Klay Thompson, so getting it off is likely not to be as much of a problem as many think. And he makes it: Ball shot 41.2 percent from the 3-point line and scored 1.235 points on jump shots in general. However, because his shot isn’t naturally squared up to the basket, Ball is inaccurate when shooting on the move. He’s much more accurate when he can catch and shoot. At UCLA, Ball pulled up for many transition threes, but getting to the rim is when he’s at his best, and he shot 70 percent around the basket during the season.

Ball’s defense is underrated. He’s got good lateral quickness and defends well in space. He didn’t settle for being screened, fighting through as many as he could. Quick hands and feet aided him in getting steals both by jumping in passing lanes and by poking the ball away from the ball-handler. He’ll get too upright at times, but is a sticky defender that will block a shot or two – both from the man he guards or sneaking over on help.

His Best Fit

Any team that wants to play up-tempo, unselfish basketball is a fit for Ball. He’ll keep the basketball moving, and thus keep his teammates happy. Ball is ready to step in and play big minutes right away, and he’ll need the time to transition from college to the NBA.