Despite his contributions to the Los Angeles Lakers as a versatile young guard, who can both orchestrate the offense and hold his own on defense, Lonzo Ball’s shooting has been a sore spot for many since his rookie season. As pointed out by USA Today‘s Lonzo Wire blog, Ball is shooting just 41.3 percent from the free throw line in his second NBA season. This marks a 4 percent decline from last year’s numbers and makes the 21-year-old point guard the worst free throw shooter among those who have played at least 1,000 minutes in the 2018-19 campaign. However, a new report suggests that any major changes to Ball’s shooting stroke might end up increasing the Lakers star’s chances of getting injured.
Writing for Bleacher Report on Saturday, Eric Pincus took a detailed look at Ball’s shooting struggles, noting that he wasn’t given enough time to work on his shooting during the offseason because he was coming back from a knee injury that limited him to just 52 games as a rookie. While Pincus opined that Ball might need a “long, productive offseason” with a shooting coach who could help him improve his fundamentals, he acknowledged that it likely won’t be easy and that Ball “probably [will] never have a traditional shot.”
In addition, Pincus quoted an unnamed NBA video analyst, who talked about the risks that Lonzo Ball could face if he makes drastic changes to his stroke.
“He’s been shooting like that for his whole life. If he starts trying to significantly change his form, it’ll probably lead to an injury.”
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) January 13, 2019
Although Ball’s free-throw shooting has gotten to the point where the Lakers’ home fans have started booing him, as Bleacher Report further noted, the former second overall draft pick is now shooting better from beyond the three-point line, having improved from 30.5 percent in 2017-18 to 33.3 percent in the current season. The publication pointed out that Ball is still below-average as a three-point shooter, though further improvements could help him win more games for the Lakers, especially if he’s playing alongside LeBron James.
Given how Ball averages just 1.1 free-throw attempts per game, Bleacher Report‘s Pincus observed that this “may be a good thing” for Los Angeles. However, Lakers head coach Luke Walton recently commented that the best way for Ball to improve his free-throw shooting is to get to the line more often.
“Some people only go [to the line] twice a game or once every other game, and then that’s tough to get into a real rhythm at the line. With him, I think the more he gets there, the more comfortable he’ll become.”
Regardless of how Lonzo Ball and the Lakers work together to improve his shooting form, the fact remains that the young guard is still struggling from the line, as he has hit only two out of 11 free-throw attempts so far this year. According to Lonzo Wire, this is an issue that might have to be dealt with as soon as possible.
“Otherwise, teams are going to go full ‘hack-a-Ball’ in the postseason,” the USA Today blog warned.