Quick, name a huge UCLA star with a surefire awesome NBA career who shoots kind of funny. Lonzo Ball you say? The current UCLA All-American thought to be the #2 pick in this year’s NBA draft? That’s a good guess. Ball’s quirky shooting style has given some purists pause. He shoots right-handed from the left side of his head. It’s not pretty, but it’s efficient — Ball is averaging 14.6 ppg on exceptionally good 54% shooting. That’s the kind of quirky coaches like — but will it travel well to the NBA, where consistency gets a much harder test?
Not everybody thinks so, Ball has an illustrious predecessor in the quirky shooting category to look to — and he doesn’t have to look far. The great Jamaal Wilkes was nicknamed “Silk” for his outside shooting touch and all-around elan. A decorated member of Los Angeles basketball royalty, Wilkes won four NBA championships (three with the Lakers) and two NCAA championships, both with the UCLA Bruins. With all these accolades, Wilkes is still best known for his unusual shooting style, which Hall of Famer Rick Barry called — in pure admiration — the “ugliest shot I ever saw… crazy right elbow flying out.” Lonzo Ball might just have a poster of Wilkes in his room.