Even Without the Hype, Lonzo Ball Is Still Struggling

  • Lonzo Ball is still struggling with the Pelicans.
  • His numbers are the same, his reworked shot is barely any better, and he was just benched.
  • If Ball never lives up to the hype, just what will his NBA career look like?

It was less than two minutes since his career was officially reborn with the New Orleans Pelicans, and barely more than a second had ticked off the shot clock when the ball reached his hands. But without any hesitation whatsoever, Lonzo Ball rose to launch a contested three-pointer anyway, ready to prove an offseason of tireless work on his jumper would pay off when the games began to matter.

Splash.

Just like that, the sweeping labors of his first two NBA seasons were washed away, replaced by the promise that made Ball one of the most hyped prospects ever when he was selected with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft.

The immediate sense of hope Ball provided in the season-opener, unfortunately, has proven fleeting over the first two months of 2019-20. His numbers are unchanged, his reworked shot is still broken, and his place in the Pelicans’ present and future plans has never been more tenuous.

All of which begs the question: If Ball will always be a version of the player he’s been since he was drafted, just what is his NBA destiny?

More Of The Same

Ball is averaging 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, numbers right in line with his career norms. He’s shooting 37.0 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc, also similar to seasons past.

The one area where Ball has made obvious strides in New Orleans? At the free throw line, where he’s up to a still-ugly 56.0 percent after failing to make half of his foul shots in each of his first two NBA seasons.

The other aspect of his game providing a small measure of optimism, better finishing numbers at the rim, doesn’t actually indicate improvement.

Ball is shooting 65.8 percent from the restricted area this season, over 10 points better than…

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