Stan Van Gundy calls Lonzo Ball’s shot transformation one of the best stories in the league
Sunday night was the latest example of Lonzo Ball's progress in the NBA, particularly with his jump shot. While Ball did well as a 3-point shooter in high school and UCLA - he shot 41.2% in more than five attempts per game during his year of study - his unorthodox jumper left his first two years in the NBA achieve much more unpredictable results.
His revised jumper was widely debated, and he and Fred Vinson have spent much of the past two seasons revising and tweaking Ball's jumpers. The results were seen during that season as Ball kicks 39.2% off the 3-point line, a career high that last culminated in his eight 3-point games against Houston on Sunday.
"You have to do him a lot of credit," said head coach Stan Van Gundy on Sunday. “It's hard for guys to make changes like this anyway, but if you've had as much success playing basketball in your life as Lonzo Ball, you need to be number 2 on the draft and have the humility to say I need to change something, me have to get better and then come in and do the work he does with (assistant coach) Fred (Vinson) and put that time and effort into, that's something to really admire.
"That's my job," said Ball, whether he is proud of his redesigned sweater. "We get paid to be at the gym. I got in, my shot didn't work. Pretty much all of the credit goes to Fred. He caught me when I came here the first week, and we've only had one since then." ground and you can see how the work pays off. "
Van Gundy was with Ball only one season in New Orleans but has watched from a distance either on the sidelines in Detroit or as an analyst for TNT, marveling at the transformation Ball's shot has undergone. He was equally impressed with Ball's willingness to drastically change his game.
"I think people, especially players, sometimes don't understand what humility means," he said. "It's not humility. Humility doesn't mean, 'Oh, I'm really not that good," and not getting into an ego thing. Humility means sitting back and realistically looking, "What do I have to do to get better? "It's a difficult thing for a lot of people. I think what Lonzo has done over the past two years to improve his shooting is one of the best stories in the league.
“He completely reworked his shot from the way he shot the ball through high school, college, and his early years in the NBA. Now he's just a great shooter and now it's his turn to take free throws. All the credit in the world to him and even then he will pay Fred the honor that Fred deserves much credit, but no coach gets anywhere with a player without the player's work ethic and humility and desire to learn. "
Aside from the simple raw numbers, Ball's 3-point attempt rate - or the percentage of his field attempts that are three - has increased dramatically with his out-of-range shooting percentages. Per Synergy, Ball is in the 85th percentile for spot-up possessions and the 84th percentile for catch-and-shoot opportunities. In comparison, he was in the 52nd percentile as a spot-up shooter and in the 77th percentile for catch-and-shoots last season
Ball is not happy with his improvements and has already started taking the next steps in his improvements as a shooter to be better able to shoot off screen shots as well.
"That was the next stage," Ball said. "We've been working on that lately, trying to remove pin-downs, floppy screens and the like, just to get up a few extra threesomes, and they fell tonight."
It's not an aspect of his game that has been apparent this season as he only had 10 possessions from the screens. If he's able to develop his game in these areas, given Zion Williamson's development as an on-ball player this year, that combination could make that combination even more dangerous going forward.
Stan Van Gundy on Lonzo Ball's best career night: "We needed him"
Josh Hart and Isaiah Thomas respond to Lonzo Ball's career night against Houston
WATCH: Lonzo Ball reacts to Jalen Sugg's summer beater against UCLA on Instagram
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New Orleans Pelicans
Stan Van Gundy
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