Lonzo Ball Talks Goals with Pelicans, Dealing with Lakers Trade Rumors

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2019

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 05:  NBA player Lonzo Ball attends a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 5, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After a relatively disappointing start to his NBA career, Lonzo Ball is ready for a fresh chapter with the New Orleans Pelicans.

One of the key changes could be the fast-paced tempo that benefits his game.

"I'm getting back to playing the style I have my whole life," Ball said about the Pelicans' attack, per Will Guillory of The Athletic.

Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said he told head coach Alvin Gentry that it's "mind-numbing" how fast the team can play next year.

The Pelicans already ranked third in the NBA in pace last season. While the Los Angeles Lakers also liked to move up and down the floor quickly, they didn't have the personnel who benefitted from this style.

With New Orleans, young post players like Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes can fly down the court, while Ball should find plenty of open looks for scorers like Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram.

Although Ball only averaged 9.9 points and 5.4 assists per game last season, the Pelicans' attack could allow him to produce the way he did during his All-American season at UCLA or his standout years at Chino Hills High School. Ball averaged 14.6 points and 7.6 assists per contest with the Bruins.

Meanwhile, the former Lakers point guard has been a bit underrated in his effort on defense—something Josh Hart and Ingram both noted.

During his rookie year in 2017-18, he ranked 14th in defensive box plus-minus. Even in a down sophomore season, he would've ranked in the top 40 with enough playing time to qualify.

The Pelicans struggled on that end last year, ranking 22nd in defensive efficiency (112 points allowed per 100 possessions). But the team's new additions, including Derrick Favors (T-14th in DBPM last season), could make the squad dangerous.

"I think we can be one of the best defensive teams in the league," Ball said

He is also close to full health after missing at least 30 games in each of his first two seasons. He said Tuesday he's about a week or two from being cleared for basketball activities.

Even though New Orleans lost Anthony Davis from a team that went 33-49 last season, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the Pelicans going into 2019-20.

             

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com.

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