Lonzo Ballhas a hideous jump shot. We all know it and it’s been pointed out repeatedly this season. But after a historically slow start to the season, Ball’s jumper is finally falling. No, seriously, he’s finally making them.
In his last 15 games, the Los Angeles Lakers rookie is 39-of-92 from 3-point range, good enough for 42.39 percent. That would rank 12th in the NBA for the 2017-18 season. Is that sustainable for an entire season? Probably not, but it’s an insane improvement over the 28.6 percent he shot from beyond the arc in October and 24.3 percent he hit in November.
While Ball has missed time with a knee injury, it’s clear he’s gotten much better as the season has progressed. In 10 December games he averaged 12.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks in 34.8 minutes per game. While he only played five games in January, he averaged 11.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 2.6 steals in 34.6 minutes. He’s filling up the stat sheet across the board.
We all expected Ball to rack up assists and rebounds from the point guard position, but he has been far better defensively than expected this season. In fact, he’s added 1.8 defensive win shares, and has a 2.5 defensive box plus/minus, which ranks 14th in the NBA. Shooting has really been the only piece missing from the puzzle.
Given what Ball brings, he doesn’t need to be a knock-down 3-point shooter. But adding that to his game will provide a huge boost to the Lakers as they work to spread the floor in Luke Walton’s system.
Don’t get me wrong, Ball’s shot is still a mess. His feet are too close together and point away from the hoop, giving him balance issues. He brings the ball from near his left shoulder across his face before releasing it, and he rarely holds his follow-through. There is no question he needs to work on some fixes in the offseason. But while a few months ago it looked like a massive makeover was needed, now things may just need minor tweaks.
In college, Ball hit 41.2 percent of his 3-point attempts. If he can come close to replicating that as a pro, he will almost certainly live up to the lofty hype that preceded him.