Pelicans Star Lonzo Ball Puts Rest Of NBA On Notice

Pelicans Star Lonzo Ball Puts Rest Of NBA On Notice

New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball has a simple warning for the rest of the league: he is a triple-double threat every single night.

“I believe I’m a triple-double threat every night,” he said in an interview with Christian Clark of “That’s what I’m going to go out there and try to do.”

Ball has been the subject of much criticism and debate since entering the NBA as the Los Angeles Lakers’ second overall pick in the 2017 Draft.

Some of the critique has been fair, like that regarding his durability. As a rookie he suffered a sprained MCL. In Year 2 he played only 47 games due to ankle issues. Year 3 was more of the same, as he struggled with an adductor strain.

Other condemnation aimed at Ball is a bit less fair. He has developed a reputation for being a bad three-point shooter, when in reality he made more threes than Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker last year.

Ball attempted 395 total three-pointers in 2019-20, making 148 of them. Booker attempted 398 total three-pointers, making 141 of them. That means despite the fact that Booker attempted more three-pointers, Ball hit more of them and at a better clip — 37.5 percent to 35.4 percent — in seven fewer games played.

For what it’s worth, new Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy has high expectations for his young point guard.

“On the offensive end of the floor, I don’t think there’s anyone better in the NBA in terms of advancing the ball up the floor for your team quickly before the other team’s defense is set,” he said.

“So many times in watching the Pelicans, both to do broadcasting, and now starting to study our team, there’s so many times he’ll catch an outlet or an in-bounds pass and advance the ball up the floor with a pass without ever taking a dribble, and that is very unique in the NBA.”

This year, Ball knows he needs to do more of what he does well – just on a more regular basis.

“It just comes down to consistency,” he said. “Doing it night in and night out. Taking it one game at a time.”

If that consistency does ultimately come, it will likely be a byproduct of the offseason work that Ball has put in.

“This was a different type of offseason, but for me, this was the longest offseason I’ve had,” Ball said. “I was definitely happy to get that time to work on my game and show what I can do this year.”

This is a big year for Ball. Either he and New Orleans will agree on a new deal at some point over the next three weeks, or he will need to earn his next big contract with a standout performance in 2020-21.

Ball signed with Klutch Sports this past September in hopes of putting himself in good position for a payday, but obviously there’s only so much Rich Paul can do. Contracts are earned on the court – and the onus is now on Ball to go out and earn his.

If all goes according to plan, Ball will finally fully reach his potential this year. And if that happens, the Pelicans could suddenly turn into a very fun team to watch over the next few seasons.

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Charles Kruger

Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7's go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.

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