Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball is known for a lot of things but having a perfect jump shot is not one of them. It’s uncomfortably awkward, with the ball being flung at the basket from the wrong side of his body.
Ball stuck with it because, for the most part, the shot went in. It wasn’t pretty, but sometimes oddballs can find success. Shawn Marion had an excellent career by flinging the ball from his waist. Rick Barry shot free throws underhand and rarely missed.
In college, Ball made 41 percent of his threes; more than enough to continue firing away. In his rookie season with the Lakers, however, that number dipped to just 30 percent, and Ball shot an unfathomably bad 45 percent from the free throw line.
Given these struggles, calls rang out once again for Ball to tinker with his mechanics during the offseason, but the Lakers are unified in no such change is necessary.
“When we’re evaluating shooting mechanics, the two biggest things we’re looking at is the release and spin on the ball, and the arch, the trajectory of the ball,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said on the final day of exit interviews.
“We’ve studied those two things on Lonzo. He has a very beautiful release. His ball spins very true, he’s got good arch on the ball. There’s been other shooters that are Hall-of-Fame players, like Reggie Miller, who have unorthodox strokes but have been great shooters. We don’t really talk or think about changing how he shoots.”
Said Lakers head coach Luke Walton: “There’s always little things you can change; the balance of your shot and things like that, you always work on those as a shooter. But changing the form, I wouldn’t recommend doing that.”
With a focus put on becoming a better shooter, the hope is also that Ball will improve from the free throw line, which Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was sure to highlight during their meeting with Ball.”
“We’re going to stay with that and have him concentrate more. He has to shoot a lot of jump shots and free throws this summer. We challenged everybody for the free throw line. I was really disappointed across the board on free throws,” Johnson said.
While his strange mechanics will stay the same that doesn’t mean that Ball’s game will be stagnant during the offseason. On the contrary, he has plenty to work on, and already has a plan for how to make himself a more effective offensive player.
“Probably my main focus is scoring from all levels. Especially off the pick-and-roll, getting in the paint,” Ball said. “I feel like if I can add that to my game it would help a lot. Floaters, pull-ups, stuff of that nature.”
If Ball can indeed improve in the pick-and-roll and the mid-range it should open up the floor for his passing considerably. Teams would no longer be able to sag off of him as much, and with his 6’6” frame seeing over the top of the defense, Ball will have an easier time finding targets to dish to.
It’s going to be a big summer for Ball with plenty of work ahead of him, but he still has the potential to be a special player, even with his odd shooting motion.
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