National Basketball Association

Lonzo Ball vs. LaMelo Ball: Who will have the better career? 'Undisputed' debates

May 5

Ball really is life in the Ball family.

Lonzo Ball and LaMelo Ball both enjoyed spectacular performances Tuesday night, leading their respective teams to impressive wins.

The elder brother of the two, Lonzo, led the New Orleans Pelicans to a five-point win against the Golden State Warriors, keeping his team in the hunt for the 10th seed and a playoff lifeline with the NBA's new play-in tournament.

Lonzo outdueled Steph Curry in the decisive quarter, leading all scorers with 12 points in just under six-and-a-half minutes of work.

His 33 points in the game tied a career high, and the 23-year-old buried seven 3s en route to a 108-103 victory for New Orleans.

The win served as a bounce-back game for Lonzo, who mustered an abysmal seven points on 16.7% shooting Monday in a 15-point loss to the very same Warriors.

His superstar teammate, Zion Williamson, addressed Lonzo's turnaround in his postgame news conference, saying that the point guard took the blame in a text message and promised he'd quickly bounce back.

"Those are big words, and he showed us what he's all about today," Williamson said. "He came today, and he showed out. Lot of respect for him."

As for LaMelo, he spent his Tuesday leading the Charlotte Hornets to a 102-99 win against the Detroit Pistons, drawing an important foul in the game's closing seconds and sinking both free-throw attempts to force the issue for the Pistons.

The 19-year-old Ball led the Hornets with 23 points, dishing six assists and collecting seven rebounds.

The win pushed the Hornets to 32-33, a game-and-a-half ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 8 seed in the East.

Performances such as Tuesday's have become the norm for the Ball Bros. in 2021. 

Lonzo, the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is averaging a career high in points, with 14.6 per game, while recording career highs in field-goal percentage (41.6%) and 3-point shooting (37.8%).

His little bro, the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is tearing it up as a rookie. In his first season, LaMelo is first among rookies in assists per game (6.1) and second among rookies in points (15.9) and rebounds per game (5.9). 

And while it's not an official stat, it's safe to argue that LaMelo also leads all rookies ⁠— if not the entire NBA ⁠— in eye-catching passes.

With so much buzz around the Ball Bros., Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe of "Undisputed" opened the debate as to which sibling will have the better career.

To start, let's see how their respective rookie seasons stack up head-to-head.

LaMelo holds the edge in points, with 15.9 points per game as of Wednesday.

Lonzo, however, gets the better of his brother in assists and rebounds, with averages of 7.2 and 6.9, respectively, during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Also, in a stranger-than-fiction turn of events, LaMelo holds the record as the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, a distinction Lonzo once held.

But back to the question above: Who will have a more successful tenure in The Association?

Bayless is partial to Lonzo.

"I'm going to hang in with Lonzo because I believe baby bro is actually more advanced in basketball than Lonzo is," Bayless said. "Because Lonzo's growth has been stunted by his predicament that he got thrust into when Magic Johnson proclaimed his jersey would hang up in the rafters at Staples … only in the last couple of months has Lonzo Ball finally come out of his shell and become a man, right before your very eyes."

Who does Skip Bayless believe is better: LaMelo or Lonzo?

As for Sharpe, he's in LaMelo's camp.

"It looks like LaMelo is going to be a star," he said. "Lonzo has showed flashes every now and then, but every night, I'm impressed by the younger brother and what he's been able to do, especially on the offensive end. … When he's Lonzo's age, he's probably going to be an All-Star. He has that kind of ability. He looks special to me."

With lengthy careers ahead for both Lonzo and LaMelo Ball, we'll have to wait a while to figure out the winner of this debate. 

But one guy who's definitely already in the win column? The patriarch of the family, LaVar Ball.

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