Most of the evaluations of Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball this season have centered around something to do with his shot. Either his shot selection or the struggles he’s faced to knock down jumpers, whether inside or behind the 3-point line.
And while Ball’s free-throw woes have gotten tons of attention lately, he has also struggled to convert from distance in recent weeks, shooting just 30.4 percent from behind the arc over the Lakers’ last 10 games. There have also been times where Ball doesn’t look to score enough.
Such was the case in Monday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers, where Ball drove to the basket but passed out to a teammate, forgoing a potential layup attempt.
Following the game, Lakers head coach Luke Walton commended Ball for making the right reads more times than not, but also acknowledged he could be more assertive on offense, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“He’s pretty good at taking what the defense gives him on most nights. And a lot of nights that’s three-point shots, because a lot of teams go under (screens) on him. He doesn’t normally get fixated on anything and try to force it. Sometimes we’d like him to be more aggressive, even if it causes turnovers or missed shots. Just to continue to get reps at doing things. But he does a nice job of reading and taking what the defense gives him.”
For all the criticisms of Ball’s game that have been levied this season, him not taking what the defense gives him every time is starting to become a legitimate one.
Ball often seems happy to heave threes when he’s left open, as Walton noted, but when getting to the rim in recent weeks he’s been quick to kick the ball out rather than try to finish through contact. A skittishness that could likely be chalked up to his struggles to convert from the free throw line.
The good news for Ball and the Lakers is that he has the entire offseason to work out all these kinks in his game, and that even in spite of them he’s still been able to make a consistent, positive impact on the team in other ways. If he ever does figure his shot out, his ceiling will just go up another notch.