New Orleans Pelicans: Devonte’ Graham is a big upgrade over Lonzo Ball at the free-throw line
One of the biggest reasons the Pelicans have had trouble closing out games over the last few seasons is that their guards were absolutely horrible at the line, highlighted by Lonzo Ball.
You want your point guard to be aggressive going after the ball in late game situations, as they are the most sure handed and usually the best at the line.
This was not the case for Lonzo Ball, who is so bad at shooting free throws that he avoids them altogether. Lonzo has averaged a Shaq-like 56 percent for his career, and that’s including last season, where he shot 78.1 percent.
Before you give Lonzo too much credit for his improvement last season, remember that he only shot 1.2 free throws per game, so his improvement was really just a matter of hitting a couple more.
Graham is an 82.2 percent free-throw shooter for his career and hit 84.2 percent last season on 2.9 attempts per game.
He doesn’t get to the line enough either, but at least he can make them when he does, which should help the Pelicans have a much better clutch-time lineup next season.
Last year Stan Van Gundy often had to insert J.J. Redick (who stunk) into games late just because he was the only guard they had who could make a free throw.
Things will be different this season, and improvement at the line could result in a few more wins for the New Orleans Pelicans.