New Orleans Pelicans: Why the Pelicans should not give up on Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Lonzo Ball #2 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
Jan 29, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (2) drives against Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) during the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball’s mid-range game has improved

Another area in which Ball has taken a step forward is his mid-range scoring. In all fairness, he could only improve. He was a complete zero from this area of the floor in prior seasons, not really willing to pull up from in between and also maybe not capable of doing so fluidly because of the pronounced sideways pull-up motion his previous shot had.

Now that his shot looks better, Ball looks much less hesitant taking a mid-range pull-up when defenses present him with the opportunity. I want to see Ball take shots like the one below.

A staple of this Pelicans offense under Stan Van Gundy has been a Steven Adams screen into a pull-up two by the ballhandler. This tends to be Brandon Ingram or Nickeil Alexander-Walker, but if Ball shows that he merits this shot, he could potentially become more involved on the attack.

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Donte DiVincenzo gets caught on Adams’ screen, Brook Lopez stays back, and Ball swishes the pull-up. This is a new arrow in Ball’s quiver that will help unlock the rest of his game.

One area that Ball does not have to unlock, though, is his passing. His vision is well documented by this point of his career, but it’s always worth reiterating because Ball’s team can count on it every night.

Ball led the Pelicans with eight assists against Milwaukee, one of the top teams in the association. He was steady, only turning the ball over twice in 35 minutes, and reliable even during the Bucks’ attempted comeback. Three of his eight assists came in the last quarter.

In the clip above, he makes an important outlet pass at a pivotal time of the game. After collecting Khris Middleton’s miss, Ball makes a heads-up play, perfectly lobbing the one-handed outlet over the outstretched arms of Giannis Antetokounmpo and right into Ingram’s pocket.

Ball still has a tendency to wildly fluctuate as a player, but he is still only 23-years-old. It’s just that he has been in the spotlight forever. A lot of NBA guards don’t have everything put together at that age and later flourish to become All-Stars or All-NBA types, such as Kyle Lowry.

It’s easy to give up on Ball when he has rough nights—more of which will undoubtedly come this season—but it should also be viable to buy in and have faith that all of his positives will eventually come together.

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