(Erica Rodriguez/Los Angeles Lakers)
2019 Player Capsule: Lonzo Ball
In the midst of his best stretch since joining the NBA, Lonzo Ball severely turned his ankle on the Houston court, ending his season with 35 games remaining.
The ankle sprain occurred right as Ball elevated his performance, averaging 13.0 points, 8.1 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals over his final seven games (despite not finishing against the Rockets).
“Those two weeks before I got hurt, I kinda figured it out,” Ball said at his end-of-season interview. “I thought I was playing the basketball I was capable of playing.”
If Ball proved one point in his sophomore season, it’s that he’s already in the discussion among elite defenders. An oversized point guard at 6-foot-6 and 190 pounds, he regularly enveloped his individual assignments while also creating chaos off the ball.
The biggest question for Lonzo entering this season would be how his role changed with the addition of two ball-dominant playmakers: LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.
Ball averaged about four fewer minutes played, which ticked down some of his averages (-1.6 rebounds, -1.8 assists). However, his efficiency nonetheless improved, especially with his individual offense (+4.6 field goal percentage, +2.4 3-point shooting).
By the Numbers
11: Years since a pair of teammates had triple-doubles in the same game. In Charlotte on Dec. 15, Lonzo and LeBron became the first duo since 2007, with Ball piling up 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists (plus excellent defense, including five steals).
35.9: Percentage shot on above-the-break 3-pointers. Lonzo actually hit an above-average clip from most of the arc, but his corner 3s (21.4) sunk his total percentage (32.9).
58.1: Percentage shot in the restricted area. Ball was a much-improved finisher, inflating his mark at the rim by more than 10 percent compared to his rookie season.
While Ball will remained sidelined for a few weeks, he is looking forward to his first true NBA offseason, as arthroscopic surgery on his knee shut him down for most of last summer.
Until his ankle is back to full health, Ball said that he will start by improving his free throw shooting. He shot a dismal 41.7 percent from the line last year (20-of-48), and only attempted 1.0 foul shot per game.
Once his ankle is ready, the 21-year-old plans to work on his overall game, though he particularly highlighted a desire to better himself in catch-and-shoot and pick-and-roll situations.
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