As one of the future faces of the league and player that was leading in the ROTY race before the injury, LaMelo Ball put the spotlight on himself and drew attention from basketball fans all over the world. LaMelo already broke some of the NBA records, and as a skilled and elite passer, he is being compared to another elite passer and 2019 ROTY – Luka Doncic.
Although Lamelo Ball missed 21 games because of his wrist injury, he broke several NBA and franchise records. At the age of 19 years and 140 days, he became the youngest player to record a triple-double, breaking Markelle Fultz’s record.
Youngest to record a Triple-Double
Luka Doncic is third on the list as he recorded his first triple-double at the age of 19 years and 327 days, and he is the first teenager to record a 30 point triple-double.
Luka’s domination as a rookie is also seen in numbers. Doncic and Oscar Robertson are the only rookies in NBA history that averaged at least 21 points, 6 assists, and 7.5 rebounds. And did we mention that rookie Luka edged out rookie LeBron in every statistical category?
LaMelo managed to record some amazing achievements even though he’s currently averaging 3.5 minutes less than Luka during his rookie year.
Besides being the youngest ever to record a triple-double, LaMelo is the second-youngest player to have 7 or more threes in a single game. In a game where he dropped 7 threes, LaMelo also added ten assists, which puts him in the elite company of Steph Curry and Jason Kidd as the only rookies with 7 threes and 10 or more assists.
What do the numbers say?
This being said, let’s see Luka’s and LaMelo’s rookie season in numbers. Luka Doncic played 72 games in his first season and started all of them. He played 32.2 minutes per game while averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists — he was shooting 42.7% from the field and 32.7% from three.
LaMelo Ball played 43 games for the Hornets so far and started in 23. LaMelo is playing 28,7 minutes per game while averaging 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists while shooting 45% from the field, and 37.5% from the three. Also, LaMelo is taking fewer shots than Luka.
In terms of defense, both Luka and LaMelo are not elite, although Luka improved over three seasons in the NBA. Both players have space for defensive improvements. Basic statistics say that Luka averaged 1.1 steal and 0.3 blocks, while LaMelo is averaging 1.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per game.
Who makes more mistakes?
If we look just at turnovers as the criteria, LaMelo stands slightly better than Luka in his first year in the league. LaMelo has 2.9 turnovers per game, while Luka averaged 3.4.
Let’s sum this up and see how does this looks head to head. Luka averaged more minutes, points, rebounds, and had fewer fouls, while LaMelo has a better fg%, 3pt %, averages more assists, more steals, blocks, and has fewer turnovers.
What about LaMelo’s and Luka’s rookie highs?
Both players have very similar highs in their rookie year. Luka’s rookie high is 35 points, while LaMelo is on 34 for now. Luka also had more rebounds in a single game than LaMelo, but both players have the exact same numbers in assists, steals, blocks, and three-pointers.
Comparing someone with Luka Doncic is quite challenging because Luka is one of the big things in the basketball world, but LaMelo definitely has his case in this debate. His elite passing abilities and talent are something that all basketball fans should be looking forward to seeing in the years to come — LaMelo needs to keep ballin’ the way he does; he has a bright future in front of him.