For someone who is yet to play a full season in the NBA, Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball sure gets a lot of attention.
Of course, much of that has to do with his loud-mouthed father, LaVar, which is compounded by the fact that Ball plays in one of the two largest media markets in the country.
But to be perfectly honest, the former No. 2 overall pick has been a disappointment over this first two seasons in the league, and while knee and ankle injuries have played a role, Ball didn’t look to have progressed too much this year when he was healthy.
Now, Ball will have a full offseason to improve and get ready for next season in what will actually be a critical year for the 21-year-old.
But, if Ball really wants to live up to his billing, he needs to work on these three things this summer:
3. Isolation Defense
One thing we keep hearing about Ball is how he is essentially a lock to be a really good defensive player in the NBA due to his combination of size, length, and instincts.
And you know what? That may very well end up being the case, and Ball has shown flashes of being a good defender over his first two seasons, but there is also no question that Ball struggles in one-on-one situations.
When Ball gets caught on an island against elite scoring guards, he tends to labor, as he surprisingly does not have great lateral quickness and gets beat easily by guys with good first steps.
It’s very tough to improve lateral movement, as it is generally something you either have or don’t have, but Ball can absolutely work on his quickness and explosiveness to at least improve in that area.
2. Three-Point Shooting
If Ball wants to become any kind of serious offensive threat in his professional career, he needs to develop a consistent three-point shot.
Now, in Lonzo’s defense, he is not horrible from downtown. He shot 32.9 percent from long distance this season, and during his rookie year, he made 30.5 percent of his triples.
Obviously, neither of those numbers are good, but it’s not like he is Ben Simmons where he is completely incapable of making a perimeter shot.
There really is no reason why Ball can’t become a league average three-point shooter. Just look at Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics, who went from shooting under 30 percent from deep two years ago to being a reliable 36.4 percent long-range shooter this season.
It can happen, and while Ball’s mechanics are weird, it’s not like his shot is completely broken.
Ball should be aiming to shoot around 35 percent from three-point range next season, and in order to do that, he is going to need to take a lot of threes this summer.
1. Free Throws
This is something I don’t understand. How can an NBA guard be shooting under 50 percent from the free-throw line?
Ball shot an abysmal 41.7 percent from the charity stripe this season, and last year, he made just 45.1 percent of his foul shots. So, think about that: somehow, Ball actually regressed from his rookie campaign in that category.
That is inexcusable. Lonzo Ball should not be a worse free-throw shooter than Andre Drummond, and if DeAndre Jordan can go from making 40 percent of his free throws to hitting over 70 percent of them, so can Ball.
Ball better be taking a thousand free throws a day this offseason, or else teams are simply going to employ Hack-a-Ball.