Lonzo Ball’s Lack Of Aggressiveness Hurting The Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball has been virtually nonexistent for the Lakers in the past 5 games. His lack of aggression overall is hurting the Lakers push through in the moments that matter most. Most recently in their loss against the Denver Nuggets, Ball only played 18 minutes and had only 7 points and 2 assists. Granted he did sprain his left ankle in the second quarter. Still, in past games where he has been healthy a spark has been absent.
For instance, when the Lakers played against the Orlando Magic for the second time of the season, Ball was once again unassertive and all over the place. He scored only 9 points and had 2 assists. Not enough to help close out the game for the Lakers. The Lakers lost to the Magic 108-104.
In the past five games, Ball is averaging only 8.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, while shooting 45% from the field. Lonzo Ball’s composed attitude might work in some situations, but a more aggressive Ball is needed now. This is something that he’s capable of doing and demonstrated in Friday night’s game against the Utah Jazz.
Along with Brandon Ingram, Ball was off to a hot start in the first half against the Jazz playing with a confidence that has been long awaited. To start the game, Ball pulls up for a three and scores the first points for the Lakers. Ball continued to play full court basketball, getting the ball to the rim fearlessly and securing in the last moments of this matchup. He ended the night with 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists. Not the most appealing stat line, but it was his aggressiveness early on that allowed the Lakers to pull away for the 90-83 win against the Jazz.
Improvement On The Defensive End
Defensively is where Lonzo Ball has the opportunity to improve. If he’s not making offensive plays or his scoring isn’t happening for that night, then he needs to be consistently active on defense. There have been some isolated plays where Ball has been aggressive, but there is no consistency.
Again, in the game against the Jazz, Ball was actively forcing tough shots and contributed to keeping Utah under 100 points. Ball is capable of being aggressive on both sides of the court and now is the time to push for it in every single game.
For being in his second year, there are a lot of contributing factors for his slow start. There might be a fear of injury that is keeping Ball away from his full potential given his history. Zo underwent arthroscopic surgery just 4 months ago to repair his torn meniscus on his left knee. Another supporting element for his sluggish start has to do with Rajon Rondo. Before Rondo’s suspension, Ball wasn’t getting as much playing time and the team heavily relied on Rondo’s aggressiveness. Now that Rondo’s been out since November 15 with a broken hand, Ball has had to pick up the slack and continue to push the ball down the court, and unfortunately, he has not.
No Time To Be Passive
Lonzo Ball must adjust to the circumstances in order for the Lakers to win. “He’s always so passive,” said Kyle Kuzma after the Lakers win in Cleveland last Wednesday. “You want an unselfish point guard, but we need him to come in and score,” and he did just that against the Cavaliers. Confidence is inviting.
The Lakers need someone who is confident in handling the ball in such a way that persuades the entire team into an aggressive mentality. Ball can be that guy. It is crucial for Zo to spark that fire within himself if the Lakers want to remain in the top 8 of the Western Conference. The purple and gold are only three games away from the top of the conference and one game away from being kicked out, so every game is pivotal.
Los Angeles will begin a 4-game home stretch starting with the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night at Staples Center. A 4-game stretch where Lonzo Ball’s aggressiveness will be key for winning every contest.