2018-19 NBA Preview: Areas of improvement for each Lakers youngster
Having acquired LeBron James on Day 1 of free agency, Laker Nation instantly zoomed the lights in on the franchise's latest GOAT-caliber player.
Understandably, a lot has been made of the acquisitions they've made ever since, what with Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley signing as free agents with the Lakers following the LeBron move.
Which means that the Lakers' young core is being slept on, as of now. Without going into how the likes of Mo Wagner and Mykhailiuk will fare as rookies, they still have four greatly talented young players who would be great additions to most other teams.
The veterans on the Lakers' squad are known quantities by this point. There is not much they can improve on right now, which means that Luke Walton will entrust them with mainly those responsibilities that they've shouldered already with other franchises.
This puts the onus on the Lakers' youngsters to adapt to the team's needs, both present and future. This article is an attempt to describe their major areas for improvement over the course of the next season:
#1 Lonzo Ball - Free throw percentage
With all due respect to Brandon Ingram, his leap as a scorer in his second professional season and his ability to play as a point forward, he is not the best young player the Lakers have - Lonzo is, at least right now.
What puts Ball apart from nearly every other player on the planet is that he is up there as a contestant for being the most intelligent player on a roster that also contains LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. As a rookie, Lonzo averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists while playing excellent perimeter defense on up to three positions during one game.
His obvious weakness is his shooting form, which is one of the weirdest I've seen any NBA player use. But he can still shoot the 3-pointer, as he proved during a stretch in his rookie season when he shot the highest 3-point percentage in the league.
What he can't do right now, however, is finish in and around the paint, or hit free throws with any reliability.
The worst of Lonzo's stats is his free throw percentage, which sits at a dastardly below-50 percentage of 45.1%. No professional should ever be shooting that low of a percentage, and it is this weakness of his that stands out the most to him.
Hopefully, as he becomes older, grows into his full frame and becomes a more finished physical specimen, he will also be able to initiate contact and use it to his advantage at the charity stripe, because it looks like the single most unlikely thing he could do on a basketball court today.