In the 2020-21 season, the NBA finally saw two of the Ball brothers showcase their talents in the league after making rounds in the amateur ranks in recent years. Already playing in his fourth season, Lonzo Ball has emerged as a vital contributor for the rebuilding New Orleans Pelicans while the Charlotte Hornets’ LaMelo Ball has been playing as one of the leading candidates for the Rookie of the Year award in his first season in the league.
With the two siblings already making a name for themselves as of late, it is unavoidable to compare them and see how far their respective careers will go further down the road.
Here are three reasons why the eldest Ball brother will have a better career in the league in the years to come:
1. Consistent improvement on the offensive end
Lonzo Ball previously found himself in a pressure-filled situation when he was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft. Armed with an awkward shooting touch back then, the point guard failed to live up to high expectations as he struggled with an average of 10.2 points on 36.0% shooting from the field, 30.5% from beyond the arc, and 45.1% from the free-throw line through 52 games in the 2017-18 season.
Three seasons later, he finally seemed to have turned the corner as his shooting form has evidently improved. The new system of head coach Stan Van Gundy along with the Pelicans’ promising pieces in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram has allowed him to tally career-high numbers this season. He is currently recording 14.7 points on 41.4% shooting from the field, 37.6% from beyond the arc, and 78.1% from the free-throw line in 53 appearances in the 2020-21 season.
On the other hand, LaMelo Ball has already shown his potential to be a great scorer in the league as he is averaging 15.9 points on 44.5% shooting from the field, 35.9% from beyond the arc, and 77.0% from the free-throw line through 46 games played in his first professional campaign.
Though LaMelo is already generating better numbers during his rookie season as compared to Lonzo, it remains to be seen if he can exceed his impressive averages and consistently improve in the years to come.
2. Better defender on the floor
Aside from his shooting which needs more improvement, Lonzo has already shown his potential to be a great defender in the league in recent seasons. In fact, he has been listed as the top defender taking on the toughest assignments on the floor this season, per BBall Index.
Our Matchup Difficulty page has been updated with data as of the beginning of today.
Here are this season's defenders taking on the toughest assignments (minimum 500 minutes):
— BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) February 23, 2021
Throughout their games in the 2020-21 season, Lonzo Ball has been regularly tasked to guard the opposing scorer with the likes of Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, and Donovan Mitchell, among others. The defensive awareness that he possesses has already sparked many runs for the Pelicans and helped them win a handful of tight games thus far.
Meanwhile, LaMelo Ball may have a longer body frame and arm reach but the rookie still needs to work on his defensive skills, especially as he matches up against heftier and stronger guards in the league.
If Lonzo continues to come out with aggression on the defensive end, it will only be a matter of time until we see the eldest Ball brother get selected to an All-NBA defensive team in the future.
Certainly enough, his capability to be a great defender in the league will come in handy for his career further down the road even when he is already over his prime. Because of this, Lonzo won’t need to be dependent on his offensive prowess just to effectuate the game, especially when playing at a late stage of his career when most players have already lost their scoring touch, thus making a positive impact on the longevity of his career.
3. Recent string of games
Lonzo Ball has been on a tear lately as he recorded impressive stat lines to start the month of May heading to the latter stages of the regular season. On May 1 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he notched 33 points on eight three-pointers made along with 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Ball’s huge production allowed the Pelicans to grab a much-needed 140-136 overtime win over the Timberwolves. Two nights later against the Golden State Warriors, he was only limited to seven points but still contributed seven rebounds and eight assists as his team suffered a 123-108 beating.
On the second game of a back-to-back against the Dubs, Ball was able to bounce back with another brilliant performance to lead his team to a crucial win. Lonzo came out with 33 points on 7/13 shots from beyond the arc to go with six rebounds, and four assists to lift the Pelicans to a narrow 108-103 victory.
Definitely, Ball will need to be more consistent with his level of play as he can explode in one night and cool off in the next game. However, he has already shown that he can produce big-time performances for his team when needed.
At the same time, this only shows Lonzo Ball’s adaptability to play in any system as he can willingly take a back seat to his more talented teammates and readily step up to the occasion when needed. His capability to be productive in the other facets of the game will help him to have a lengthy and fruitful career in the league, if only he manages to find himself in the right situation moving forward.
Ultimately, the intangibles that Lonzo Ball brings to the table are already proving to be valuable as he has already garnered significant attention from many teams around the league that are expected to make a run for him in the upcoming offseason. It can’t be denied that LaMelo Ball will be a future star in the league but it seems like his older brother in Lonzo Ball will have a better career down the road when all is said and done.