Free throws have been at the forefront of the talk around the New Orleans Pelicans lately and Lonzo Ball needs to be part of that discussion.
Most of the talk has centered around the free throws that weren’t taken by Zion Williamson after he was clearly hacked at the end of the game by Nikola Jokic, costing him a chance to try and tie the game and send it to overtime.
Prior to that blown call (which the NBA has now admitted was a foul), fans were angry that the Pelicans were missing too many free throws, which has cost them several games. They are next to last in the NBA in free throw percentage.
One person who has escaped all of the free throw discussion is Lonzo Ball, as a casual look at his stats shows that he has improved immensely in that area, raising his average to 78 percent from his career average of 54 percent.
That is great and Lonzo should be commended for improving in that area. But a closer look at the numbers shows this improvement is not as great as it appears.
New Orleans Pelicans: Lonzo Ball needs to shoot more free throws
Look, we’ve talked about the fact that Lonzo Ball needs to get to the rim more for two seasons now.
If he is really the point guard of this team, he has to occasionally penetrate the 3-point line, get into the lane for passes, shots and to draw fouls. He is too big, too strong and too talented not to have this element in his game.
While Lonzo’s free throw percentage has gone up, his attempts are down to one per game on average, the worst of his career. That ranks 46th among point guards in the NBA.
His April has been even worse, as Lonzo Ball has shot just seven free throws in the 11 games he’s played in this month, which is baffling and unacceptable.
I know his fans and defenders will find a way to blame this on Stan Van Gundy, but Lonzo Ball leads the team in touches and though he has taken on a different role this season, he has to do more than just be a ball mover on offense.
If he can start getting to the rim and drawing fouls, his ceiling as an offensive player is raised considerably, as he is already a very good 3-point shooter.
Good teams have point guards who take and make free throws, and Lonzo Ball has to add this element to his game at some point.