Lonzo Ball was the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Ball is a hounding defender who has tremendous court vision.
However, his court vision has not translated to him running a half-court offense effectively.
It also doesn’t help that he currently plays as the two-guard.
He is still better suited out in transition and the fast break with running mates.
With the Pelicans trading Jrue Holiday in the offseason, they clearly handed over the keys to their young cornerstones.
MIL: Jrue Holiday, No. 60 pick Sam Merrill
NOLA: Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, ‘25/'27 1sts, ‘24/'26 swaps via MIL
OKC: George Hill, Josh Gray, Kenrich Williams, Zylan Cheatham, Darius Miller, ‘23 protected 1st via Denver, two 2nd round picks
DEN: RJ Hampton
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 22, 2020
There was hope Ball’s shooting breakthrough last season would open everything up.
He knocked down 37.5% of his threes on good volume – 6.3 per game.
Last season seems like an anomaly at this point, as Ball is only canning 30% of his 7.2 attempts per game.
The Pelicans are 6-10 with the 9th lowest-scoring offense in the league at 109.2 PPG.
The advanced stats support this as they have the 12th-worst Offensive Rating and 7th slowest pace.
With Zion and Ingram both averaging 24 PPG, the Pelicans need to surround them with more shooting to maximize their talents.
It’s time for the Pelicans to start shopping the eldest Ball brother.
Ball Restricts the Offense
As mentioned earlier, Ball has struggled shooting this season.
On top of his 30% from deep, he is only at 39% from the field and 58% from the line.
His shooting form was a talking point since the 2017 draft, and offseason improvements with a shooting coach in 2019 haven’t stuck.
And with franchise cornerstone Zion Williamson also being a non-factor from three, Ball cannot afford to be anything below average from deep.
Lonzo Ball's shooting splits are 39/29/58. He's terrified of contact now, so he doesn't drive the ball anymore. He's become a one-dribble and pass guy. He's not anything what you guys think he is on offense and he's becoming very overrated as a defender. https://t.co/WsrPuxpsei
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 28, 2021
Ball’s lack of shooting has limited Zion’s offensive strengths of bully ball in the paint.
And because he rarely drives into the paint, he doesn’t collapse the defense to open up looks for teammates.
In order for the Pelicans to maximize the talents and opportunities of their two young stars’ Ingram and Williamson, they need to swap out Lonzo for a knock-down shooter.
Younger Guards Need Minutes
The other case to move on from Ball (and possibly Bledsoe) is to free up minutes for two younger guards on the roster.
NAW, while only shooting 33% from deep, is hitting at 78% from the foul line, which portends reason for hope beyond the arc.
He has also proven to be a solid defender.
It’s early in the season but the #Pelicans have 2 players above the 90th %tile while defending Pick and Roll Ball Handlers…
Brandon Ingram- 99.1%tile
Nickeil Alexander-Walker- 93.3%tile
— GHOST (@NolaGhostSports) January 21, 2021
Lonzo’s main calling-card throughout his career has been his defense.
If NAW can play solid defense and be an upgrade on the offensive end, he should be getting more minutes.
Lewis hasn’t gotten much run this season, but he was the 13th overall pick in the draft and has loads of potential.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) November 19, 2020
He has elite speed and quickness and shot the ball well in college (50% FG/36% 3PT).
Lewis may not be the best on defense but would provide a jolt to a stagnant offense off the bench.