For just the third time in their NBA careers, Lonzo and LaMelo Ball will go head-to-head on an NBA floor when the Chicago Bulls host the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, Nov. 29.
One would assume this is just a slightly brighter stage than some of their 1-on-1 battles in the driveway, but ahead of their first NBA matchup last season, Lonzo said they didn't have many individual at-home battles.
"Not really too much 1-on-1; a lot of 2-on-2s, 3-on-3s, though, pretty much our whole life," the older Ball brother said.
"1-on-1, I was just always a little too big for him. As far as playing in the backyard, we played 3-on-3 pretty much every day. We always went at it and I think you see that in his game. He's not afraid of anybody. He's always played up and it's always been that way for him."
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Lonzo, 24, might be older than LaMelo, 20, but LaMelo outperformed his big brother in both meetings during his rookie season.
In their first-ever NBA matchup, LaMelo had a near-triple-double, going for 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Hornets to a win over the New Orleans Pelicans, where Lonzo only had five points on a poor shooting night.
It's safe to assume LaMelo will let Lonzo hear about this stepback 3-ball in his face for a long time coming.
LaMelo with the three over Lonzo!- Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 9, 2021
He has 12 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST after 3 quarters.
Lonzo's team may have gotten the win in the second meeting, but LaMelo's 22 points and five assists still edged Lonzo's 12 points and six assists.
One year later, both brothers have taken their game to another level, setting the table for what should be their best contest yet.
Lonzo is thriving in a new situation, playing a key role on both sides of the ball as the Bulls look like one of the best teams in the NBA to start the season. His defence has always been praised, but his shooting is lightyears ahead of where anyone could have expected it to be coming into the league.
Lonzo has become one of the best perimeter shooters in the league, knocking down 43.2 percent of his attempts from 3-point range. Of the 26 players who have attempted more than 140 3-pointers this season, no one is converting them at a higher rate than Lonzo.
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His younger brother, on the other hand, is making a leap from Rookie of the Year to potential All-Star, and the Hornets (13-9) are reaping the benefits, just behind the Bulls (13-8) in the standings despite far lower preseason expectations.
The young superstar has built on an impressive rookie campaign, improving in every major statistical category.
|Rookie season: 2020-21||15.7||6.1||5.9||1.6||35.2|
|This season: 2021-22||19.4||8.0||7.9||1.9||37.8|
The list of players averaging at least 15.0 points, 8.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game is both short and impressive: LaMelo, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Dejounte Murray. Three of those players are multi-time All-Stars, while Murray is making a strong case for the NBA's Most Improved Player through the early part of the season.
Even with each brother's respective improvements in other areas, the one skill that makes them most similar on the court is their passing. When it comes to sharing the rock, the two look like twins in that aspect.
LONZO DIME. LAVINE 360 SLAM.- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 11, 2021
SHOWTIME IN CHICAGO 🔥 pic.twitter.com/QEgVtmIMGS
LaMelo launches the long-distance assist 🎯- NBA (@NBA) November 28, 2021
Watch @hornets / Rockets in the first quarter on NBA League Pass: https://t.co/5ekswLCtFD pic.twitter.com/4n4IPEH7RZ
Given how crucial LaMelo's imprint is on the Hornets' success, don't be surprised if we see Lonzo draw the assignment of trying to shut down his younger brother.
From the driveway to the NBA hardwood, these two familiar foes will battle it out for bragging rights at the next family gathering.