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Here at CHGO, we’re kicking off the Bulls summer with evaluations of each individual player’s season.
Today, it’s time to look at Lonzo Ball’s 2021-2022 season.
Lonzo Ball’s core stats:
Box stats per game:
- 35 games played (career-low)
- 13.0 points
- 5.4 rebounds
- 5.1 assists
- 1.8 steals (career-high)
- 0.9 blocks (career-high)
- 42.3 percent on 2- point field goals
- 42.3 percent on 3-point field goals (career-high)
- 75.0 percent on free throws
- 57.5 true shooting percentage (career-high)
These overall advanced stats are another piece of the puzzle to add context when evaluating players. The four in this table are considered to be some of the best. Zero is roughly average. Check out this article to learn more about each metric.
Ball signed with the Bulls last offseason on a four-year contract worth $80 million, including a player option on the fourth year. Despite playing only 35 games this season, Ball showed he can have an impact well worth that annual number.
Starting with the defense, few players in the league can do what he does. Ball’s defensive metrics are among the league’s elite: his defensive EPM is in the 97th percentile and his 2.9 defensive RAPTOR is 15th overall. The Bulls defense held opponents to 8.6 fewer points per 100 possessions while Ball was on the court compared to when he was off (96th percentile).
The metrics more than match the eye test. Ball is a visionary when it comes to quarterbacking a defense. He covers so much ground and covered up mistakes all over the floor.
The Bulls defense was filled with holes, but along with Alex Caruso, Ball propped it up.
The Bulls were fifth in offensive rating before Ball went down with his injury and 20th after. There is some noise there with the schedule getting much harder and the team’s shooting numbers generally being a little inflated during the first half, but that’s the kind of impact Ball made.
Shooting over 42 percent on 7.4 three-point attempts per game, the Bulls had a super high level floor spacer to open up driving lanes for DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic to operate in the paint.
More than that, his passing and quick decision-making as a connector elevated the Bulls beyond any single other attribute.
Ball created easy looks all over the floor by helping the Bulls offense flow.
The injury problem is a real concern. Ball missed 47 games due to his meniscus surgery and ensuing bone bruise. His recovery time was initially set 6-8 weeks from January 28, which should have gotten him back in the lineup around March 25, potentially in time for the playoffs. The Bulls were never able to ramp him up to the point of full sprints due to pain from a bone bruise doctors found prior to his surgery.
Even today, 15 weeks from his surgery date, his status remains unclear. We don’t know whether he has been able to make any progress since his end of season press conference or if he will require an additional procedure.
Despite the injury putting a damper on his season, Ball made the Bulls great. He provided the Bulls with something they haven’t had in years: a two-way player capable of defending multiple positions, quarterbacking the defense and shooting high volume, high efficiency from deep.
On top of all that, he made the Bulls fun. DeRozan and LaVine provided some incredible scoring performances but Ball added a flashiness and swagger the Bulls needed, and did it in a high basketball IQ kind of way.
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