LaMelo Ball has been the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year and even LeBron James was impressed after his first look at the up-and-coming star.
LaMelo Ball played down the stakes of his first career matchup with the GOAT, LeBron James. Earlier this week he responded to a question about whether or not he was excited for the game with an extremely modest and hard-to-believe quote:
“I mean, nah. I grew up a little different. Not really on basketball like that. So, not really. I go to every game with the same approach — going in to try to get a win.”
After a tough game and an 11-point loss to the Lakers, Ball didn’t change his tune. But LeBron certainly seemed impressed with his first look at the presumptive Rookie of the Year. Speaking with the media after the game (h/t ClutchPoints), LeBron had high praise for Ball.
What did LeBron James have to say about his first up-close look at LaMelo Ball?
“I think he’s damn good to be his age. His speed, his quickness, his ability to make shots at all facets in the paint. Floaters, 3s, he has the three tiers already, and he’s only going to get better. Him and [brother, Lonzo] are two very unique players in our league, and they showcase that every night.”
Ball finished the game with 26 points on 10-of-18 from the field, adding 7 assists and 5 rebounds. LeBron did him one better with 37 points on 14-of-22 from the field, adding 8 rebounds and 6 assists. According to the NBA’s matchup statistics, LeBron was Ball’s primary defender for just over 44 seconds on four possessions. Ball was 1-of-2 when defended by LeBron.
The two teams will meet again when the Lakers travel to Charlotte on Apr. 13. We’ll see if LaMelo brings any new tricks for the second round.