LaMelo Ball is having a good start for the Charlotte Hornets this season. The team was erstwhile unbeaten until an overtime loss against the Boston Celtics blemished their clean slate. Former player turned podcaster JJ Redick sees a former player in Ball’s game, possibly inspiring the young star.
Ball is similar to White Chocolate’s game
LaMelo Ball grew up in the spotlight, so he’s no stranger to large crowds, people chanting his name, or cameras following him around. Having been raised in a family with his dad LaVar Ball and brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo and having their reality show Ball In The Family, which lasted six seasons, LaMelo understands how fame works. You can see the eagerness to put on a show every time. Melo plays like he’s born to please the crowd.
Recently retired JJ Redick, who played in the NBA for 15 years, witnessed some great players in his generation. He singled out one player in his podcast who he thinks had the same mentality and approach to the game as Ball.
“The comp it's a little bit like J Will, White Chocolate who I played with in Orlando. Lamelo is probably at this point we can comfortably say is going to be a much more prolific and you know uh he's going to win more accolades than Jay Will but Jay was a great, great NBA player. but that's that's sort of what I see. The daring risk, the risk-reward value proposition that he takes literally on a play-by-play basis is something to behold. The confidence and the courage to make those plays, it's awesome it's fun to watch. He's one of my favorite players to watch right now.”
JJ Redick, via The Old Man and the Three
That’s a pretty good comparison and even better praise for what Melo is doing right now at his age. It’s easy to forget he’s still 20 years old because the maturity and confidence in his game are beyond his years.
LaMelo Ball vs. Jason Williams
Redick played with White Chocolate in Orlando, and he saw how good J-Will was. At his peak, he was just fun to watch with his borderline arrogance and penchant to do something extra. He actually made memorable plays out of broken plays.
Williams was not nicknamed White Chocolate for nothing. He was too saucy on the court despite being white. But let’s compare the two when Williams was 20 years old. White Chocolate was not even in the NBA yet when he was 20. In the 1998-99 season, he entered the NBA as a 23-year-old and averaged 12.8 points, six assists, and 1.9 steals.
Meanwhile, Melo had 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals in his rookie year, en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. So, Redick made a good point that Ball would probably win more titles or individual awards than Williams. But the similarity in their games is uncanny.
Both possessed quick-thinking on the court and could read what the defense was giving. You can’t fire a dangerous pass or an unnecessary lob if you don’t possess the skill, confidence, and trust of your teammates. Flair is built knowing that a player is aware of what he is capable of and is not afraid of showing it. Not all players can do fancy passes or else risk ending up on the Shaqtin-A-Fool list or getting the ire of their coach. What makes Melo and White Chocolate special is that they are both risk-takers who have the skills to back it up.
Ball knows what it takes to get to the next level. He revealed he’d like to adopt the old-school mentality of players back in the day, as reported in Sideline Sources. He has all the skills and support to achieve more extraordinary things, but the sophomore guard needs to stay healthy. Injuries derailed Wiliams’ ascension to the superstar level in the league.
There’s only one White Chocolate in the NBA and while the comparison is great, let’s give Melo Ball the chance to become the first Melo Ball.