Lonzo Ball as a deep threatGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Lonzo Ball as a deep threat

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Importance of stretching the floor

3 point shooting is one of the most valuable skills that a player can offer and it allows for rosters to be constructed much easier. Adding someone who can space the floor allows for the team to compensate for players that provide little spacing and open the court in general for the primary initiators. This skill is so valuable that the Golden State Warriors won the championship this year simply on the fact that they can defend at a high level and also they have tons of people that can shoot or at least have the threat go being able to shoot. (Editor’s Note: it helps to have Durant, Curry, Klay and Draymond, but those are key attributes for the Warriors.)

Some prospects are great shooters that offer very little in other areas and they are still valued as somewhat high commodities. The NBA is clearly moving more towards a space and pace system where teams are pulling up for 3’s in transition.

For a player to have off-ball potential, shooting is incredibly important. Since Lonzo Ball is projected to do most of his damage without the ball in the half-court setting, being able to shoot the ball effectively off of the catch is incredibly important. The good news is that he has a shot with a lot of range and it is at it’s best when it comes from spot up opportunities.

Lonzo has a funky release. It isn’t all that ugly (Editor’s note: LOL) [Other editor’s note: I adopted his form recently and have shot approximately 80% since, even though 90% of my shots were uncontested], it just really isn’t traditional. Ball shot 41% from the 3 point line while hoisting up 5.4 attempts a game. This gives a really good sample size. His shooting should translate well with this kind of data supporting the fact that he can shoot well. A lot of his success came off of the catch and shoot by curling off screens or hosting up some tough shots with defenders in his face. The shot does have a lot of moving parts and he has to gather sometimes which delays the shot from going up, but the manner that he shoots the ball will make it tough to guard initially.

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He brings the ball from his left hand side and finishes on the right side. It is tough to really time a block attempt or a closeout with this kind of form and release point. It is why he can get it off with a defender in front of him. It will be interesting to see how the shot holds up after time for people to scout him and the defensive level to increase. The shot itself shouldn’t have many issues since it is usually balanced and consistent. As long as he is able to shoot consistently, the threat of his shot should help him attack off-balanced defenders and make him a deadly shooter.

This long process to gather and go through the whole motion did require for more space to be created at times in the form of stepback jumpers. Lonzo showed really impressive range as he shot it from quite a ways away from the 3 point line at times. This allows for the shot to be more projectable in the NBA.

Film Breakdown

Lonzo Ball has his issues with being stiff in a lot of his movements, but he has shown the ability to attack closeouts in many ways. He either steps to the side for a better shot, or he attacks off the dribble. The corner 3 is not something that he likes to shoot so here he sees the defender come at him and he recognizes that it is a big man that he can take off the dribble. Gabriel comes from the weak side to block the shot, but Lonzo does a good job of using the up and under move to finish. It was awkward, but it showed some crafty finishing potential:

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A huge fuss can be made out of his shot, but one thing was undeniable last year: It has a lot of range. The shot takes a long time to get off at times, but the range that he has with it helped to makeup for it. It makes it tough to cover since it looks like he can’t make it and then this happens:

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When Lonzo can get time to gather and not rush his form, it can be very deadly. In this play, he is able to gather and go through all the motions with no pressure from a defender. He gets some good arc on the shot and it goes to show the potential he has as a catch and shoot player:

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This shot is really tough and Lonzo drained it over a good defender like Melton. The range on the shot is quite far from the 3 point line. With a hand in his face, it was interesting to see how he got the shot off. The release point is quite high and that results in guards needing to do more then just put a hand up and actually attempt to block it. Through his time at UCLA, he showed the ability to make tough shots:

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Lonzo really hates shooting the corner 3 point shot and tries to avoid it. He purposely pump fakes and steps to the side to shoot a shot that is more comfortable for him. Also he avoided a crazy closeout. Either way there is a pattern occurring: Lonzo can take what defenses give him and make it what he wants it to be:

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Catch and shoot ability is clear here. He was able to get the shot off in time against a good defender. The celebration was pretty cool too:

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Even when he isn’t shooting the ball from the same base that he usually does, his shot remains constant and balanced. It may be a bit long and odd, but does stay consistent and it proved to be effective:

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His shot is definitely covering NBA range, and this play goes to show that the defender can’t let Lonzo get too comfortable or let him gather because Ball needs to be covered with body on him. This kind of defense won’t cut it:

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I don’t really know how he got this shot off. He had a tendency make shots with little time and a defender right on him:

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Some defenders gave some really good closeouts on Lonzo, but he was still able to drain the shot. His shot is pretty quick when he catches the ball at his chest. It allows for the riddance of the long gather; therefore, the ball is released quicker. The closeout did result in more arc on the shot, but it appears that Lonzo can make that kind of adjustment off the catch:

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Not all of the catch and shoot attempts were open. Some of them were off-balanced and really tough to make. He does seem to arc the shot more than usual when getting a strong closeout, but here he gathers quicker then usual and gets the shot off quickly. This shot was most of a slingshot type shot that makes it hard to block since Ball is shooting more to the rim then up. The catch and shoot 3 can be really quick and deadly:

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The usual dipping of the ball before Lonzo puts his shot up is something that gets players confused on how to exactly time the closeout. The shot has so much range he can step back farther then some defenders expect. The step back is coming because Lonzo can’t create much separation, but teams still couldn’t really stop it. Ball’s footwork and mechanics are really good. Hard to argue against the result:

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The range was not only on step back shots. The defender on this play was surprised at the distance that Lonzo shot the ball. There is no question that shot is from NBA range and it shows the scary potential of Lonzo becoming a consistent long range sniper:

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With how long it took Lonzo to gather, it would make it hard to shoot the ball with a defender on him. For Lonzo, since the threat of him driving to the rim is in the mind of the defenders, they can forget to step out. One thing teams can’t allow is for gonzo to take his time to gather or else things like these will happen. Even if he won’t be deadly off the dribble, a defender should of stepped up sooner:

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Even in a crowded transition setting, Lonzo is able to find space to get off his 3 point shot. The way Lonzo creates most of his pull ups are by stepping back and getting enough space to gather. Here, Lonzo notices the defender is behind a bit, and then he steps back to give himself enough time to get the shot off before the closeout. Good, quick decision-making allows for Lonzo to get good look for himself:

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