Sports Strength

Which NBA Hall of Famers Are The Ball Brothers Like?

In their second and fifth NBA seasons, LaMelo and Lonzo Ball have proven their father right and proven themselves to be massively positive forces for their respective teams (the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls, respectively). By entering the league as highly-anticipated top-three picks who possessed the skills and personality to change a franchise, the Ball brothers first endured their share of struggles before breaking through for good.

By thriving the way they are, (LaMelo is averaging 19 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists per game, and Lonzo’s energy has powered the Bulls to a 10-4 start), the Ball brothers are not only compared to their peers at the point guard position but of all time. Below are the three Hall of Fame point guards to whom LaMelo and Lonzo Ball are most similar.

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Jason Kidd

  • 2018 Naismath Hall of Fame inductee
  • Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2000 and 2008)
  • Second on NBA’s all-time assists and steals
  • One-time NBA Champion
  • Ten-time All Star

Throughout Kidd’s 19-year career in the NBA, he was a prime example of what it meant to be a tall, strong, and versatile point guard who could control the game in every way possible. Before Russell Westbrook became the league’s reigning triple-double king, it was J-Kidd who teased the statistical accomplishment or achieved it on a nightly basis.

So far in their young careers, the Ball brothers have become synonymous with their acts of playmaking and improved defense; while also becoming improved offensive players. The latter is a trait that is happening sooner for them as it didn’t for Kidd. 

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Gary Payton

  • 2013 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee
  • One-time NBA champion
  • The only point guard to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996 and 2000)
  • All-time NBA leader in steals

While greatly known as one of the league’s greatest defenders, the man who’s better known as “The Glove” was also a talented scorer who averaged 20 points per game in eight out of ten seasons between 1994 and 2003 and finished his career with 21,000 plus points.

Although Lonzo is more similar to Payton as a defender because of his versatility to guard two or three positions and collect steals, LaMelo takes the nod offensively. The younger Ball is actually on pace to surpass Payton as a scorer since he’s producing his second consecutive season with at least 15 points per game during his second season, a feat the Hall of Famer didn’t achieve until his fifth.

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Dennis Johnson

  • Nine-time NBA All-Defensive team
  • Three-time NBA champion and one-time Finals MVP
  • Five-time All-Star
  • Two-time All-NBA team selection

Dennis Johnson ranks high amongst various guards who were big-time players over the last three or four decades. The legendary Boston Celtic shined bright as a two-way guard who contributed to the Celtics’ championships throughout the 1980s and created a blueprint for how combo guards thrive in the NBA.

Between the Ball brothers, Lonzo’s production over the last couple of years (13 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game) matches closely with what Johnson produced, and with his growing defensive ability, the oldest Ball could become Dennis Johnson 2.0 in the right, competitive situation. 

Sports Strength

Why This Chicago Bulls Roster Is Their Best in Years

Some arenas occupy a special spot in hoops lore and the United Center—the house that Michael Jordan built—is no exception. Unfortunately, despite their vaunted court, the Chicago Bulls haven’t managed to attain that same success since Jordan retired in 1998. Until… now?

This season feels like a whole new ballgame for Bulls fans. With a completely revamped roster, new coaching and a front office that makes actual well thought-out decisions, there’s a chance that this year, Bulls fans will be watching their team play important games in May.

Over the summer, Arturas Karnišovas and the rest of the Bulls’ recently installed front office conducted a full make-over of Chicago’s roster; only two players (Zach Lavine and Coby White) remain on the roster from the despairing GarPax days. In their first major move of the off-season, the Bulls addressed their long standing need for a pure point guard by trading for Lonzo Ball. Although Ball lacks the ball-handling fluidity to be a permanent lead guard, he’s an intelligent and willing passer who will spring fast break opportunities for explosive wings like Lavine, Derrick Jones Jr. and Alex Caruso. 

If acquiring Ball helps juice their transition attack, sign-and-trading for DeMar DeRozan was done with an eye on their half-court offense. Although DeRozan ostensibly overlaps with Lavine in both form and function, DeRozan was primarily used as a power forward last year in San Antonio. As such, DeRozan’s abilities as both a scorer and facilitator poses a matchup nightmare for the opposing power forwards who will be tasked with guarding him. 

Similarly, Nikola Vucevic, their marquee addition at last year’s trade deadline, offers a surfeit of skill at the center position. Besides Nikola Jokic, no other big man in the NBA has the same level of fluency with the ball as Vucevic, who’s able to score at all three levels. 

With most of Chicago’s recent moves focused on bolstering their offense, the Bulls are relying on sophomore forward Patrick Williams to anchor their defense. In many ways, Williams is the archetypal defensive stud in 2021. Although Williams has neither the size to be a true rim protector nor the spindliness to navigate screens on the perimeter against guards, he’s tremendously versatile and instinctive. Most of all, he’s an event-creator off the ball, wreaking havoc by lurking in passing lanes for steals or sliding over for blocks from the weakside. Playing alongside mediocre defenders like Lavine, DeRozan and Vucevic, Williams will be tasked with plugging leaks whenever and wherever they arise. 

What To Expect 

Up-tempo offense and smart defensive plays/rotations will be the Bulls’ calling card. Last season, the Bulls’ defense was threadbare at best, with almost no movement or rotations. Still, in their four preseason games, the Bulls now look like a revamped team with an aggressive new defensive scheme: with no free lanes given, every enemy drive to the basket yielded attacks on the ball. 

Offensively, Chicago seems equipped to unload from well beyond the arc; with guys like Lavine and Vucevic shooting above 40 percent from deep, this is a team that has some serious three-point shooting artillery. Equally exciting is how many former dunk champions are on the team: Demar Derozan, Derrick Jones Jr., Zach Lavine. And those high-flying dunks will look even better coming off alley-oop assists from Ball and Caruso.

Ceiling And Floor For This Team 

Ceiling: Three-seed in the East. The Bulls have what it takes to dominate in the East, although they probably can’t quite hang with Brooklyn or Milwaukee yet. Nonetheless, a three-seed would be a sizable win for the Bulls, who haven’t seen the playoffs in nearly five years.

Floor: Play-in tournament. Missing the playoffs will be a failure for this team; in fact, even finishing eighth would be disappointing. 

Overall, this team has untapped potential, particularly as Zach Lavine comes into his own. Don’t be surprised if, all season, the buzz is about the madhouse on Madison.