When the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball second overall in the NBA Draft, they were expecting to get an extraordinary passer who could also stretch the defense with his outside shooting.
Unfortunately, for much of this season, Ball hasn’t been able to find the bottom of the net, shooting just 30 percent from the field and 24 percent from three. With an unconventional shooting style, pundits far and wide were calling for Ball to completely rework his shot.
But the young guard continued to believe in his ability to convert. He kept shooting, and now, it’s starting to pay off.
In the last eight games, Ball is shooting an impressive 44 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. He spoke to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times about how much his confidence in his shot is growing:
“Just confidence,” Ball said. “I’ve been missing for a long time, I’m bound to start hitting. I’m going to keep shooting. They’re all good shots to me, so it’s feeling good.”
Perhaps most impressive was Ball’s 9-for-16 shooting performance against the Golden State Warriors, which equated to 24 points in a heartbreaking Lakers loss. Head coach Luke Walton praised his rookie’s performance:
“For playing the hardest position in the NBA as a rookie I thought he’s had an unbelievable season so far even before he started shooting the ball better,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “Game by game he figures out more and it’s good to see that his hard work is paying off.”
While Ball’s most noteworthy skill is his passing, he has to be able to knock down shots in order to keep the defense honest and give the Lakers’ offense enough room to operate.
Ball shot 41 percent from behind the arc in college and shot many of those from roughly the NBA 3-point line. So there is some real hope that his recent stretch is more of an indicator of his true shooting ability than his ice-cold November.
If he can keep this up the entire team will benefit, so hopefully, it is more than simply a hot streak. Unfortunately for Ball, a left shoulder sprain will sideline him for at least three games, beginning Christmas.
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