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What to Expect From Incoming UCLA Freshman Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball, the 4th highest rated recruit in the class of 2016, is coming to UCLA. What should Bruins fans expect from the talented guard?

High School Basketball: McDonald's All-American Games
Lonzo Ball (2) in the McDonald’s All-American Game
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

All Lonzo Ball knows how to do is ball. All his family knows how to do is ball. It’s fitting right? Lonzo, the first of three superstar brothers, is coming out of Chino Hills high school in Southern California, and was committed to UCLA from the second they were interested in him. Like, for real. He signed in 2014, which is crazy early for someone from the 2016 class to sign. Lonzo, a McDonald’s All-American and ranked 4th in the ESPN 100 for his class, is a 6’4 point guard who can do it all on the court. As you can see from his senior year mixtape, Lonzo has crazy athleticism and great size and length for a point guard. At 6’4, he will be taller than most other point guards that he comes up against in the Pac-12, and his 6’7 wingspan will allow him to guard both point guards and shooting guards, and a good amount of small forwards in a pinch. Lonzo’s real value comes on the offensive side of the court, however. Lonzo is just a great passer. He showed that off in the McDonald’s All-American game, with passes like this:

And this:

These passes really show how Lonzo can thrive at the next level. As a long, athletic, pass-first point guard, Lonzo obviously thrives in transition, where he can speed past everybody and throw alley-oops to all of his teammates. Lonzo, also, however, as seen in the first gif, can thrive in a half-court setting. Watch here as, in the state championship game, Lonzo perfectly reads this pick-and-roll:

Lonzo knows his own abilities. He also knows that the defense knows them. So, as Lonzo comes off the screen, he hesitates. This freezes the defense, as they start to assume that he will throw one of his pin-point passes to the man rolling to the hoop. After the defense is frozen, Lonzo then attacks the hoop. The defense is on their heels, and Lonzo can drive to the hoop. However, once he gets right to the hoop again, Lonzo hesitates once more, and jump stops. A seemingly inconsequential move that he uses just to get some balance right? Nope. This jump shot stops the help defender right in his tracks. As Lonzo gets both feet on the ground and both hands on the ball, he once again looks as if he’s going to pass, and the help side defender doesn’t fully commit to stopping the ball handler, allowing Lonzo an easy clear path to the hoop. On top of all of this, he did this entire sequence while handling the rock with his weak hand, showing impressive weak hand footwork and ball handling.

So we’ve seen that he can pass. And we know he has the length and athleticism to defend and rebound. Where Lonzo’s game slips, however, is in his shooting. Here we can see just how crooked his jump shot motion is:

Under former sharp shooter and current UCLA head coach Steve Alford, Lonzo’s motion should improve, and his shooting should improve a bit, but if he is unable to develop that phase of his game, it will heavily affect his draft stock.

What will Ball look like at UCLA? I totally expect him to simply tear it up. He could be a triple double machine if he adds a few pounds of muscle to his frame, and he will thrive at UCLA next season.