Chances are, if you’re talking about Lonzo Ball on a basketball court and strictly that, the topic of conversation is his abnormal shooting technique. But the Los Angeles Lakers guard spent this past offseason getting stronger so as to make his jumper a little less out-of-the-ordinary, although he disagrees with those who think he made sweeping changes to his form.
“Everybody is saying my jump shot is this new thing,” Ball said at Lakers media day. “To me it hasn’t really changed a lot, I think I’ve just gotten a lot stronger so I don’t have to really fling the ball like I did last year.”
That’s the money line right there. The transformation of Ball’s body was praised by just about anyone who had the chance to during media day, and for good reason. He looks noticeably bigger, especially in his upper body.
Unfortunately, Ball’s offseason surgery probably prevented him from being able to also get stronger in his lower body, but that kind of thing will come in time.
In addition to his extra strength, Ball has made some minor tweaks to his shot, even if he’s saying it’s not as new as some seem to think.
“It’s moved a little bit more to the middle, but still on the left side,” Ball said. “I’m just trying to focus on my mechanics now, keeping my hand up, keeping my elbow in more, and I think just me being stronger in my upper body, it’s easier to get to the rim.”
You see this a lot with kids who tried to start shooting 3-pointers way too early in their development. They figure out all kinds of ways to increase the distance they can heave the ball, but it becomes more of a catapult than a jumper. It’s for this reason I really wish we’d ignore the three-point line in youth basketball, but I’ll step off this soapbox.
Increasing his strength will also pay dividends in terms of mitigating the effects of fatigue on Ball’s jumper. If he has to use less energy on each jumper compared to last year, the erosion exhaustion on his jumper should, at least in theory, be less pronounced.
In regards to centering his jumper, that’s a little less important compared to his strength, though it should be noted (again, only in theory) that this slight tweak might help make his release point more consistent. Shooting is all about repeatability, and anything Lonzo can do to make his shooting action more consistent from the ground up, the better chance he has at figuring out that aspect of the game.
And as has been said roughly three zillion times by this point, if Ball can become a more consistent shooter, watch out.
Note: Our own Coach Svete broke down some of the tweaks mentioned throughout this piece in a clip of Lonzo shooting, and agreed with much of what Ball was saying before he actually said it. It’s well worth your time.