Lonzo Ball’s injury has allowed the New Orleans Pelicans to experiment more on offense, and that should make them even stronger in his return
The New Orleans Pelicans got back in the win column a couple of nights ago with a 128-123 thriller over the Sacramento Kings. The game was a big one for Pelicans fans everywhere.
Not only did the team put an end to the 5-game skid they were on, but the steady offensive improvements the team has shown in recent games finally manifested themselves for a win.
That’s led me to question: Is it any coincidence that the Pelicans’ offense improved without Lonzo Ball on the floor?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Pelicans are better without Lonzo Ball. What I’m suggesting is that Lonzo Ball’s recent injury has forced Stan Van Gundy to get more creative with his offense.
How Lonzo Ball’s injury forced the New Orleans Pelicans to get more creative on offense
When watching New Orleans Pelicans games without Lonzo Ball, you could see the offense had a totally different feel to it. That’s because the team had to compensate for losing Ball who is at his best an elite on-the-ball playmaker.
Without Lonzo Ball, Stan Van Gundy had to find creative ways to fill the void that Ball left. He needed another secondary ball-handler.
He found a few in Ball’s absence with great performances from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kira Lewis Jr, and Zion Williamson in a ball-handling role.
In addition to the new ball-handlers, Van Gundy also got experiment with different lineups, specifically with different backcourt configurations. These new lineups allowed Van Gundy to have more spacing on the court at any given moment.
What this means for the New Orleans Pelicans in Lonzo Ball’s return to play
In my estimation, these innovations that Stan Van Gundy made when Lonzo Ball was away will help the team.
We’ve seen that most of the year, Van Gundy will use Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball as the team’s primary ball-handlers but that’s become predictable, often devolving into the same offensive actions.
Now, Van Gundy can spice his offense up on any given night. He can bring up Kira Lewis Jr or Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who played sparingly when Ball was active, for a shot-making punch. Better yet, we could see some reverse pick-and-pops where Zion’s the ballhandler as Lonzo sets a screen for him before hopping out the 3 point line.
These elements make the New Orleans Pelicans more unpredictable which is a dangerous trait to have in the NBA. It’s why I think Lonzo Ball’s injury, while disappointing, could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for this team in the long run.