Lonzo and Lamelo Ball are hitting their NBA strides at the same time
There is a young tandem setting the NBA on fire – the members of that tandem just so happen to play for different teams.
Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans and LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets are brothers, of course, and a high-profile set of brothers at that. But with their play of late, they have warranted all of the attention they've received.
The Balls are the first pair of brothers to each be selected in the top three picks of the NBA Draft, with Lonzo drafted No. 2 by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017 and LaMelo selected No. 3 by the Hornets in 2020. With each currently manning the starting point guard position for his respective franchise, they are making good on the promise of their lofty draft selections.
Coming off an impressive February, it seems the brothers are hitting their strides at the same time.
Let's start with the rookie.
This season, LaMelo Ball has been impressive, averaging 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists while guiding the Hornets to a 16-18 record, good for eighth in the Eastern Conference as of Tuesday.
Keep in mind, the Hornets haven't made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season, and haven't won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season.
Those numbers are gaudy enough for a player with only 33 career games under his belt, but they have been even more impressive since Ball became the Hornets' starting point guard at the start of February.
Ball is also on pace to become the second player in the past 40 years to lead all rookies in points, rebounds and assists. The first? Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, who did so in 2013-14 in his rookie campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers.
LaMelo added to his resume by scoring 30 points on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers, the second 30-point performance of his career.
Ball's statistical dominance, combined with his leading his team to victories, has FOX Sports NBA insider Chris Broussard proclaiming big things in the future, as he detailed on "First Things First."
"Nobody thought he could shoot when he entered the league. Props to Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets for bringing him along slowly. They put him on the bench to start the season, made him earn his starting job. Now he has. This guy is a future star."
And on Tuesday, Skip Bayless continued the praise on "Undisputed," saying that LaMelo seems to just be having fun on the floor.
As for LaMelo's older brother, the start to his career wasn't as smooth.
Lonzo Ball averaged just 10.2 points per game while shooting 36% from the field as a rookie with the Lakers. He also battled injuries in his first two seasons.
Since being sent to the Pelicans in the summer of 2019 as part of the Anthony Davis trade, however, Ball has started to come into his own as a starting point guard. So far this season, he is posting career highs in scoring (14.8), field-goal percentage (43.3), 3-point percentage (39.7) and free-throw percentage (77.5).
In February, Ball averaged 16.5 points per game while shooting 45.4% from the field, 45.9% from 3-point range and 84.6% from the free-throw line. He has played in 30 of 33 games this season.
That is a far cry from the player Ball was his first two seasons when he missed 65 games and struggled to find consistency on the court, as Christian Clark of Nola.com detailed:
"He has a chance to be a 40% 3-point shooter after knocking down threes at a 31.5% rate in two seasons with the Lakers. He’s cut down on his turnovers significantly since he returned to the lineup in January.
"He’s also making incremental progress attacking the basket. He has attempted 25 free throws in February, the most of any month in his career. His free-throw percentage has climbed to 75.7%."
Inevitably, as their careers continue, the two Ball brothers will be compared, and Shannon Sharpe delivered his pick on Tuesday, saying that as of today, we would go with the younger of the two.
The Ball brothers both seem intent on making statements to the rest of the NBA this season.
So far, those statements have been pretty loud.