Lonzo Ball and LeBron James made some Lakers history on Saturday night, becoming the first Laker teammates to have a triple-double in the same game since Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1982. They were also the first NBA teammates period to have a triple-double in the same game since 2007.
“Dream come true,” he said when asked what it’s been like playing with the King. “I grew up watching him my whole life, he’s my favorite player of all time. To be out here, get wins with him, go through battle with him, it’s great.”
If Ball thought that was cool, the love James showed him both in the media AND on social media probably made the moment even more incredible:
Heady praise from LeBron for Lonzo Ball: "We’re one and the same when it comes to our playmaking ability. We’re always looking for our teammates and that’s the greatest satisfaction we can have when we see our teammates score the ball."— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 16, 2018
James and Ball’s bromance is nice, and it’s good to see the two coming together — especially for those hoping Ball sticks around in L.A. — but arguably just as meaningful of a development to come out of the team’s 128-100 victory over the Charlotte Hornets was the growing on-court chemistry James and Ball are cultivating.
Ball and James have played a ton of pick and roll together this season, but mainly with Ball as the screener. Against Charlotte, they flipped that script, and showed that their pairing can be just as effective while switching rolls in that set:
We've seen a lot of Lonzo screening for LeBron, but tonight they showed the other way around can be pretty damn effective too pic.twitter.com/Yb8YV2ULUh— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 16, 2018
When James joined the Lakers this summer, his and Ball’s admittedly similar playmaking skills seemed to promise lightning-quick sequences of instantaneous passing that made it look like the ball was apparating around the court as the two basketball prodigies read each other’s minds to stay one step ahead of hapless defenders.
That hasn’t happened a ton this season, but Ball and James do seem to be showing more signs of getting on the same wavelength, with this sequence in which Ball pushed the break, passed to James and then didn’t see the ball didn’t touch the floor again before being dunked home by JaVale McGee serving as an example:
I also thought this sequence, where Lonzo kickstarts the break and then the ball doesn't touch the floor again showed more of the type of synergy we were expecting to see from #LeBronzo pic.twitter.com/9ALRrkFWWY— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 16, 2018
That’s the sort of stuff James means when he praises Ball for having similar playmaking ability to him. Obviously that’s high praise coming from one of the greatest players to ever set foot on a basketball court, but when Ball and James can mind-meld like they did against the Hornets, it’s not unfounded praise, either.
What a cool moment for a kid from Chino Hills who grew up idolizing a kid from Akron.