Five things to know about Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball
1) The second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Ball first became a household name in the hoops world during a stellar freshman season at UCLA, where he averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bruins. He was also efficient offensively in college, shooting 55.1 percent from the field – excellent for any position, but particularly for a guard – along with 41.2 percent on three-pointers.
2) Over his two NBA seasons, he’s been regarded as one of the better defensive backcourt players in the league. He will likely pair frequently with Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, a fellow UCLA product who has extensive credentials at that end of the floor (NBA All-Defensive first team in ’17-18, followed by All-Defensive second team in ’18-19). Ball has averaged 1.6 steals per game as a pro, in 32.4 minutes.
3) Upon entering the NBA, Ball drew comparisons to Jason Kidd in terms of his combination of passing ability, unselfishness and knack for contributing in multiple categories. The 21-year-old has registered three triple-doubles in the NBA, including a pair as a rookie and a 16-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist performance at Charlotte in December of last season. LeBron James also registered a triple-double in that road win over the Hornets, making Ball and James just the eighth set of teammates to do so in league history.
4) Shooting is one area of Ball’s game where he will try to continue to improve with the Pelicans. He has shot 38.0 percent from the field over his two NBA seasons, as well as 43.7 percent at the foul line. He was forced into playing away from the ball more last season after Los Angeles’ addition of James, which has not been Ball’s strong suit. With New Orleans, he projects to play the vast majority of his minutes on the ball as a point guard who will run an up-tempo offense and find open teammates. In his rookie season, Ball averaged 6.9 assists, which was tied with Kyle Lowry for ninth-most in the NBA, though Ball did not officially qualify for the league leaders due to only 52 games played.
5) In a Facebook video he posted after learning he had been dealt to the Pelicans, Ball had an immediately positive reaction to his change of address, saying, “You probably heard the news. It's good news, in my opinion… I got traded, that was good. And yeah, now we’re going to be taking the show to New Orleans and turning up out there.”