In an apparent effort to function better off the ball, Lonzo Ball has been tweaking his shooting form.
Lonzo Ball came basically as advertised as a rookie last year, averaging 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game with shortcomings as a shooter (30.5 percent from 3-point range). His odd shooting form invites plenty of scrutiny, and Ball is also working his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July.
Ball has been fully cleared medically from his knee surgery, but the team will take it slowly with him during camp. Magic Johnson is putting the second-year point guard on a breakout season though, lauding Ball for spending time in the weight room, spending time in the film room and tweaking his shooting form this offseason.
As Johnson tells it, the latter idea was self-driven.
“We didn’t want to bother him [his shot],” Johnson said Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility. “I think he decided to do that on his own.”
There is some visual evidence showing Ball’s new shooting form.
Ball’s release looks much quicker, with a shorter hitch and his launch point is more centered on his frame. But overall his form still looks odd, and that is unlikely to ever change. But there’s practically nowhere to go put up, as Ball finished 153rd out of 154 NBA players who played at least 1,700 minutes last year in true shooting percentage (44.4 percent). So any change should be a good one.
With the ball-dominant LeBron James and Rajon Rondo coming to the Lakers, Ball will have to be more of a threat as a shooter and be able to function with the ball in his hands less overall. A solid 3-point shooter may be in there somewhere, as he converted over 41 percent from beyond the arc during his lone season at UCLA. But Ball was bad off catch-and-shoot from beyond the arc (33.5 percent), and as a pull-up 3-point shooter (31.7 percent) last year. Those will be the most critical areas of improvement if he’s going to be a good compliment to James.
Ball may never be a particular 3-point marksman. But reaching a functional level of 35-40 percent would be fine, to go with the rest of his game that is at times unique and certainly NBA-caliber.