How the New Orleans Pelicans can stop Lonzo Ball

New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball (Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham (4) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball (Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Orleans Pelicans will take on the Chicago Bulls tonight in the Windy City in their first real matchup with former teammate Lonzo Ball

The Bulls routed the Pelicans in preseason behind a strong effort from Ball, who finished the game with 19 points, four assists and five rebounds.

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The Pelicans will have to keep him in check if they want to get their first win of the season, and will be attempting it shorthanded, as Zion Williamson is out and Josh Hart is likely to miss the game with an injury he suffered in the home opener.

The Pelicans are familiar with Lonzo Ball even though they have a lot of new faces, so hopefully will have a game plan for slowing him down. Here is what it should look like.

The New Orleans Pelicans need to play Lonzo Ball tight

Lonzo Ball is a matchup problem for the Pelicans, who are small at point guard with Devonte’ Graham and Kira Lewis Jr.

But what these two can do is play Lonzo tight, stay in his grill and force him to put the ball on the floor in the half court.

Lonzo is excellent in transition and can hit open 3-point shots, but he is not the greatest at driving to the hoop, so the Pels need to stay tight on him and force him to dribble or pass it away.

Lonzo can hit catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, so the Pels need to use their quickness to stay in his face.

The New Orleans Pelicans need to make shots

While I think Lonzo Ball’s passing is vastly overrated, there is no arguing that he is dynamic in transition and fast breaks.

There are few in the NBA better at throwing lobs or full court passes than Ball, so the Pels need to make shots to ensure that the Bulls are taking it out of the net instead of getting out on the fast break.

This sounds like common sense, as you need to make shots to win obviously, but this will also slow the Bulls down and force them to play in the half court, which is not Lonzo’s strength.

The Pels must make Lonzo Ball work on defense

Lonzo is a pretty good defender who is very good at certain things, but he does have some weaknesses defensively. He has a hard time fighting through screens, so the Pels need to work his man in the pick-and-roll and make Lonzo expend a lot of energy chasing them around on defense.

You can also take it right at Lonzo, as the Detroit Pistons did effectively in their opener. The Pistons used bigger guards and wings to push Lonzo around in the post, which worked at times, something the Pels can replicate in the right matchups.

Lonzo Ball is going to be eager to have a big game against his former team, but the Pels should have a game plan to stop him. Let’s hope it works and the Pels get their first “W” against their old friend.

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