Most people jumped off the bandwagon for LaMelo Ball — the youngest of the Ball brothers — long ago because he got caught up in the Big Baller Brand mess, ended up playing in Lithuania, and there was a perception he loved to score but didn’t enjoy playing defense or putting in the work.
That tide started to turn last year. Reports from people who had seen Ball at the Spire Institute school in Ohio said promising things: Ball was maturing, he was 6’6″ with handles, had gotten serious about his game, and was starting to look like a quality NBA-level prospect. This season, Ball is putting up numbers in the Australian professional league and could well be a high draft pick next June.
Lonzo Ball sat down with Shams Charania of The Athletic to talk about his tabula rasa in New Orleans and the opportunity that provides, but he provided this note about the youngest Ball brother.
“’Melo has a chance to be a better player than me, for sure,” Ball told The Athletic. “I feel at the same age, he’s better than me. In real time, I don’t think he’s better than me.”
Then Ball smiled and said, “But I’m the big brother so I’m always going to have that edge over him.”
LaMelo has a lot to prove still, but he was long considered the most naturally talented of the three. He seems to be tapping into those skills.
Look for a breakout year from Lonzo — if he can just stay healthy. Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo system should fit Ball well. Plus, if you throw alley-oops to Zion Williamson, you end up in a lot of highlights. Ball and Jrue Holiday form one of the best defensive backcourts in the league. This is a real opportunity for Lonzo.
But in five years, we may well think Lonzo was only the second-best baller in his family.