A familiar name will appear among the visiting Charlotte Hornets when they face the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. LaMelo Ball is visiting Staples Center where his older brother, Lonzo, started his NBA career in 2017 paving the way for the talented younger siblings to follow.
Lonzo’s career didn’t quite unfold the way his notorious father, LaVar, envisioned. The Lakers shipped the No. 2 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft to New Orleans in a package that brought Anthony Davis to L.A in 2019, where he helped the franchise win the championship in his first season wearing purple and gold.
But LaMelo seems to be on a different trajectory. With his flashy passes and slick moves, the 19-year-old guard has taken the NBA by storm and leads the Rookie of the Year race in the eyes of many. Considering the youngest of the Ball brothers essentially started his professional career overseas at the age of 16, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma isn’t surprised by his meteoric rise.
Especially as he had the chance to learn from Lonzo’s journey in the NBA way before he entered the league himself. “You’re going to pick up a lot, obviously,” Kuzma said. “Especially when you’re the youngest brother, youngest in the family. You’re going to pick up on things, you are going to see things being around this game.
“Being in Australia for him helped his game out a lot. It really sped up the process of understanding the game, you just see how well he’s playing the game this year.”
Kuzma pointed out LaMelo has played basketball against older players for most of his career which, he thinks, inevitably facilitated the young guard’s growth. “Going back to him being a fifth-sixth grader playing up against teens and going to Lithuania and then playing in the NBL in Australia with grown men,” he said.
“When you are playing basketball with a higher level of people your game is going to be much more mature. It’s not really shocking to me.”
LeBron James: Lakers ‘Super-Duper Lucky’ to draft Talen Horton-Tucker
While eyes will certainly be on LaMelo Ball during the Thursday clash, many will also eagerly follow Talen Horton-Tucker’s performance considering his stunning form in recent weeks. The Iowa State product has been averaging 13.0 points, 3,8 assists, and 3.6 rebounds over the last five games, continuing his overall progress in his second NBA season.
LeBron James recently recalled the Lakers drafting Horton-Tucker with the 46th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, saying they were extremely fortunate to snap up the guard so late in the second round. “Let’s be honest, if you go back in the draft and re-do the draft from last year, Talen Horton-Tucker would not go in the second round,” James said.
“We were super-duper lucky and blessed to be able to grab him where we were able to grab him out of Iowa State.”
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