Lonzo

Lonzo

The Good:

Lonzo's Fast Break court vision is elite. Yes, it totally is. No one sensible would dispute this. See example below. 

 

Point to Consider:

On average only 19% of all possessions in the NBA are fast break possessions. The best team in the NBA at fast breaks is the warriors and they average 22.3 points per game in the fast break. The lakers are in the top 10 with 15.2 points per game. Even if you would suggest that they double from where they are that puts them at 30 points per game. 


Hypothesis:

Lonzo Ball's unorthodox shot will not translate to the NBA as efficiently as it did in college. He will get a lot of fan fare for his fast break passing and for the hype, but the inefficiencies will stand out as the game slows down and he ultimately will not be a top guard in the NBA and will not be the best PG in his draft class. (DSJ was my suggestion at time of draft) 

Proposed Reason:

Average NBA player is 6'7" making it more difficult for Lonzo to get his shot off as compared to in college with the average height being 6'3". Lonzo's inability to shoot anything other than layups and open 3's will limit some of his versatility in college. 

Result Thus Far: 

Lonzo is not good at shooting the ball thus far, especially from 3 where he shoots in the bottom tier. (League Average is ~2x better what he shoots). He averages 9Ast/game but also average 4.5Turnovers a game. 


Argument: 

Lonzo wasn't drafted to be a shooter and his ability to pass the ball will add pressure on defenses which will create space and make up the difference between his ineffective shooting. 

Rebuttal: 

Lonzo is averaging close to 9 assists a game which is good.  His assist to turnover ratio however is only 2/1. His turnover rate thus far is that of players like Justice Winslow, Patrick Patterson, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. No where near the 2.8 Rondo averages or the 3.8 guys like Chris Paul Average.

There are elite guards that average 2-2.5 AST/TO a game but these guards are scoring guards (Lillard, Kyrie, Harden), not the pass first guards like Rondo and Paul.

This suggests that yes he can pass the ball, but as the game shrinks and he gets into the half court he is mistake prone.

Going deeper into his turnover rate, Lonzo in college averaged 18% turnover rate (18% of all possessions resulted in a turnover) this number is currently sitting at 23%. Close to 1/4 touches results in a turnover. 

Assist to Turnover Ratios @ 2/1

Assist to Turnover Ratios @ 2/1


Argument: 

Lonzo was a good shooter in College and was able to get his shot off therefore he will be a good shooter in the pros. 

Rebuttal:

He is averaging < 20% from 3. Put into perspective, thats worse than Andre Roberson.


Argument: 

Plenty of NBA point guards don't have a mid range or floater game and do just fine only shooting layups and 3's. (James Harden for example)

Rebuttal: 

Harden shoots a very efficient percentage almost anywhere on the floor. He shoots league average from three. He also shoots very efficiently with a high # of his shots taken up to 14ft away from the basket. Harden gets to the free throw line more than most players in the league offsetting any shooting inefficiencies.

Lonzo would need to double his 3pt shooting % just to become league average from 3.

Oh, also, James Harden's shot plot is consistent from everywhere all over the floor. He's not limited to certain places on the floor.

Harden Shot Chart

Shoots very consistently no matter where he is.


Lonzo's Shot Chart:

In college, Lonzo was able to step beyond the line and shoot beyond the defense. This allowed his shots to be less contested by the defenders. In the NBA he's not been able to replicate that shooting an abysmal 18.6% from 3. Since no shot chart exists for his totals in the NBA thus far, Ill use his college chart to illustrate the point I want to make (even though it is astronomically better than his SL chart). 

Lonzo virtually didn't take shots that weren't at the rim or from 3.

Unlike Harden (above) who was consistent in both attempts and makes across the board up to 14ft and beyond the arc, Ball definitely has tendencies that show he has favoritism's. If it's not a layup/dunk or a 3 he aint taking it. Furthermore, he shy's away from contact averaging only 3FT per 40mins in college. In Summer League play, Ball didn't shoot a free throw 3 games into the season. 

Below you will see a side by side comparison of Lonzo vs Every Other PG/Combo guard in the league which will show that you need to have more of an arsenal in your game beyond shooting 3's and layups unless you're elite from 3.


Below is a side by side comparison between Lonzo and many of PG/Combo Guards in the NBA. 

Lonzo Ball Shot Chart.

It is important to note that Lonzo's 3pt shooting thus far is ~18.5%. His shot distribution and %ages thus far put him in a category with the likes of Kris Dunn and Elfrid Payton (he shoots worse than both). Even Rajon Rondo's shot distribution shows consistency taking and making from straight away inside the 3 point line outside of 16 feet. The point here is not to suggest that he will be worse than those guys, it is to suggest that his shooting is not merely mediocre or "needs improvement" it has been horrendous.

Mixed Bag:

Lonzo definitely shows flashes of brilliance in his game. He also shows that the skillset for what people want him to be and his vision are actually there.

However, Lonzo's inability to shoot coupled with his high turnover rate is offsetting some the flashes of brilliance that are on display in the video above. Obviously the turnovers will likely come down (that typically comes with more reps/age) but the very terrible shooting is leaving a glaring hole in his game. There is literally no player in the league that has sustained poor shooting and a lack of offensive versatility all the while remaining an effective player.

The above coupled with his turnovers can only yield the following conclusion; the jury is still out on Lonzo. There has been nothing consistently displayed to merit that he will be a perennial all star, or even the top of his class. The hype is there, and sometimes the passing, but the holes are just as big.

If you are able to find me a player that succeeded while shooting this poorly from 3, with a lack of any offensive scoring versatility, along with this high a turnover rate I will keep my mouth shut.

The jury is still out, and until the above is resolved will remain out. No one game sample (good or bad) will determine this one way or the other.