Thanks to the gregarious personality of their father, Lavar Ball, the three Ball brothers burst into the professional basketball news scene before the 2017 NBA Rookie Draft. The reason for their rise? The eldest of the brothers, Lonzo, was projected to be selected in the draft's top three picks. Lonzo Ball, a talented prospect coming out of UCLA, was billed to be the next Jason Kidd and even drew some comparisons to Laker Legend Earvin "Magic' Johnson due to Lonzo's combination of size and skill. Ironically, Magic Johnson drafted Lonzo in his front office capacity, and fans immediately expected Ball to save the Lakers from a period of basketball despair, similar to how Magic did for the Lakers in the early 80s.
Fate would not be so kind to Lonzo Ball, as the attention brought about by his father's proclamations and the bright lights of Los Angeles proved to be shackling Lonzo. It was only until he was eventually traded to New Orleans as part of a package to acquire Anthony Davis that Lonzo started to flourish as a player. However, nearly five years later, the youngest of the Ball brothers is proving to have more "Magic" in him than his older brother or anyone else to play in the league ever since Magic retired.
Many said that the first descendant of Magic Johnson was LeBron James. LeBron's talent and jersey number drew early comparisons to Michael Jordan, but James' combination of size and court vision led people to believe that Bron was always more Magic than Michael. If we look even closer, LeBron likes to play the game at a slower pace when he's controlling the basketball, preferring to push the ball only to get downhill for a strong drive to the basket. But, quite frankly, LeBron does not remind me of Magic Johnson too much apart from the size and vision.
"LaMelo Ball through 20 games: 398 PTS 156 REB 150 AST 39 STL 8 BLK The only other player to post such minimums in the first 20 games of a season? Magic Johnson in 1980-81."
LaMelo, on the other hand, plays with the same flare and smile that Magic brought to the game. Melo pushes the ball hard and, like Magic, is doing so with his head up as he looks for a streaking finisher on the first and secondary break. Magic was a big guy, but he mainly used his height to look over defenders, unlike LeBron, who uses his size to bury opponents into the defensive underground. Like Magic, Melo uses his size and length to see things happen before they do and is not afraid to throw a nifty pass once he sees an able receiver.
For Melo to be able to have this good of a start in just his second season is remarkable. As you can see in the tweet above, the last time a player put up these numbers to start a season was when Magic did it in his second season in the NBA. Melo is not only putting up these historically good numbers, but he is contributing to winning basketball and the potential resurrection of a franchise in a city that has been hungry for some NBA success. LaMelo should be able to keep this up, and if one day he can lead the Hornets to an NBA championship, then the Magic comparisons will be even more glaring than ever.