Lonzo Ball is widely regarded as a top-two pick in this year’s NBA draft, but is his awkward, sometimes-slow shooting motion a warning sign? He hits 42 percent from beyond the arc, but NBA-level defenders might give him more of a challenge if he can’t get the ball out of his hands quickly. Kevin O’Connor, Chris Ryan, Joe House, and Bill Simmons discussed his future on the latest Bill Simmons Podcast.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
Lonzo Ball May Make the Most Sense for the Celtics
Chris Ryan: How are you feeling about Lonzo right now?
Kevin O’Connor: I’m loving Lonzo, man. I think his basketball IQ is just unbelievably [high]. The only flaw is his dad and how he talks him up as the next [shooter] — better than Stephen Curry.
Bill Simmons: Would you take Lonzo or [Markelle] Fultz if you’re the Celtics and you got the no. 1 pick?
O’Connor: If I were the Celtics, I think I’d rather Fultz, just because I think he’s more versatile on both ends of the floor. [But] in both situations really how does that impact Isaiah Thomas? Like, would he be happy with a team drafting a point guard?
Simmons: I think Lonzo makes more sense for the Celtics —
O’Connor: Because he can shoot?
Simmons: Well, better shooter, but also [he] can go anywhere. You just tell him to do whatever. "Lonzo, go over there. Lonzo, handle the ball. Lonzo, play small forward." Like, he’ll do anything.
Is Lonzo Ball’s Shooting Motion an Issue?
Joe House: I have a question for Kevin about Lonzo’s shooting stroke, and I’m gonna make a ridiculous analogy here. I’m curious about it. It feels like it might be really susceptible to being defended in the NBA in a way that college can’t defend it, and the stupid analogy is I think about Tim Tebow’s throwing motion and how long it took him to throw a pass in the NFL and why that ultimately defeated his success. And I worry about Lonzo with that shoulder pocket shooting style and whether he can be sort of groomed out of that.
O’Connor: Like we talked about earlier with Fultz, I don’t think Fultz is actually a 42 percent 3-point shooter. I kind of feel the same way about Lonzo Ball. But with that said I feel really good about Lonzo Ball being a great shooter off the catch. I think despite his weird, funky mechanics — that sling shot — I think he’ll be good off the catch. My concern, and this is kind of where I have my hangup with him, is I don’t think he can’t create his shot off the dribble with those weird mechanics.
Look closely next time you watch him play. When he pulls up from midrange or 3, there’s this weird pause as he stops his dribble.
Simmons: A hitch.
O’Connor: Yeah, as he stops his dribble.
O’Connor: As he stops his dribble he adjusts the ball in his hands and he doesn’t go straight up in his shot. And that’s what separates the Steve Nashes and the Stephen Currys of the world: They can create their dribble and create space, but they also just fire straight into their stop, and Ball isn’t at that level.
But He Could Easily Figure It Out
Simmons: I just think when your IQ is that high on a basketball court, you’re going to be fine. He’ll figure it out. He might be, like, a genius.
O’Connor: That’s what happened with Malcolm Brogdon.
Simmons: I don’t know if Brogdon’s a genius.
O’Connor: He’s pretty smart. They call him the President for a reason.
Simmons: He might be a genius like he might be running his own company someday. Lonzo’s like a hoop savant.
O’Connor: Yeah, I think Brogdon, we’re comparing like a second-round pick to a top-three pick, but I think in terms of basketball IQ … those guys tend to figure it out at some level.