Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball attracts a lot of attention. He plays for one of the league’s glamor franchises and has an outspoken father that always manages to draw headlines with his comments.
However, while Ball himself rarely says anything controversial, his unconventional shooting form has drawn more than its fair share of criticism. If he was converting at a high rate that would silence his doubters, but for the season Ball is hitting just 36 percent from field and 32 percent behind the 3-point line.
Even more troubling, Ball is shooting a woeful 46 percent from the free throw line, which is among the worst in the league. Last week, the Denver Nuggets employed a Hack-A-Lonzo strategy, intentionally fouling Ball to put him on the line late in the game.
To his credit, Ball has recognized his flaw when shooting free throws and has a plan to fix it, via Kevin Ding of Lakers.com:
Off topic, I ask Ball what he’s working on to improve his free-throw shooting. His answer: “Just slow down. I’m shooting them too fast. Take an extra dribble and breathe a little bit more. Mostly bend your knees, though, because I do shoot ‘em straight up. In the flow of the game, if you’re tired and you’re shooting ‘em straight up, that’s not going to come off good.”
It’s not just Ball that is struggling with his free throws, either. As a team, Los Angeles ranks dead last in the league, hitting just 71 percent of their freebies. Head coach Luke Walton has been left frustrated with their performance, and previously considered alternative remedies like meditation to fix the issue.
For now, the Lakers continue to rely on simply increasing their attempts in a practice setting, with the belief that it will ultimately translate to in-game success.
For Ball, who has been asked to be more aggressive offensively, improving his percentage at the free throw line will be a must. If he is expected to attack the rim more consistently that will result in more frequent trips to the line, where he has to knock down his attempts in order to keep the team’s efficiency up.
It won’t be easy and there is plenty of time for the 20-year-old Ball to continue to improve, but it’s a subplot worth keeping an eye on.
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