There's a stimga that seemingly follows LaMelo Ball, the youngest, perhaps most polarizing, of the Ball brother trio. It's not that he's strictly a shooter, it's that he shoots too much. And it's not that he isn't capable of passing, it's that he's not the elite-level playmaker his oldest brother Lonzo is.

That stigma has only been enhanced by his viral rounds on the internet -- like his 92-point outburst in a high school game, or his awful highlights of a 52-point loss his team suffered earlier this spring where he missed 20 3-pointers. The internet is a cruel mistress. It can make you famous one minute, and infamous the next, as we've seen in the case of the 16-year-old sharpshooter who has more Instagram followers than the past two No. 1 NBA Draft picks combined.

LaMelo's standards as a player are set at a ridiculously high level, too, thanks in part to his eldest brother, Lonzo, a one-and-done UCLA star now with the Lakers. But because of the stimga that follows Melo, he's not been talked about in the same light as his brother. He doesn't pass it like Lonzo, people say. He's not a playmaker, others will argue.

But a comparison of Melo and Lonzo in high school tells a different story. Like Melo's passing, for instance -- arguably the biggest strength of Lonzo's game in college -- is also a major positive for Melo. Here you can see him slicing through the lane drawing four defenders on the first play, which sets up an easy behind-the-back, no look assist in traffic. And on the second, he simply realizes he drew a defender in transition and finds a teammate for a wide open layup. Simple stuff, sure, but it's a regular part of his dynamite offensive arsenal.


Showboat? Absolutely. He seems to embrace that as much as anyone at the high school level, much the same way as Lonzo did. Nonetheless, it looks rather familiar to older brother in high school, wouldn't you say? Flashy, yet splashy. And hey, it's pretty effective.


Both have savvy hoops handles on the floor, and despite Melo being tabbed as a shooter, he's an above average play-making guard both on and off the ball. He's good around the rim with a nice floater to complement his outside game. He has a good overall vision of the floor and how plays develop from his position. And most critical of all perhaps is that at 16, he's finally shot up like a weed into a legitimate potential pro prospect -- at least size-wise -- at 6-foot-4.

So the question you're likely wanting answered now: Does Melo have that same funky shot as Lonzo?

In a word, no. LaMelo doesn't have a funky off-the-shoulder release like Lonzo. He's a pure shooter like Lonzo, but with decent form, despite a wandering right elbow from time to time. When he's in rhythm and feeling himself, he's extremely difficult to defend, form be damned, whether it's off the bounce or in catch-and-shoot situations.

Baller Visions

Here's a look below at the aforementioned mechanics of Lonzo, which has given him some troubles in the NBA getting off shots against lanky NBA defenders. Both have the same forked out elbow upon their release, although LaMelo's is a little more exaggerated. However Lonzo's shot, generally speaking, is more of a launch rather than LaMelo's more traditional form coming off the right side of his head rather than directly in front of it.


In the sense that LaMelo's form is more normalized, that's where he most closely relates to his middle brother, UCLA freshman LiAngelo. Gelo, from an aesthetics standpoint, has the smoothest jumper of the brothers. Ironically, he's also the only of the three not expected to evolve into the same NBA prospect. The former three-star recruit can light it up though when he's hot, and as he's shown throughout his high school career, he has the talent to light teams up from virtually anywhere on the court, much like LaMelo.


Oddly enough, LaMelo, a former Chino Hills standout now being home-schooled, might never see the floor as a college player. It's years away, to be sure. But now that he's the unofficial face of the family's Big Baller Brand apparel company with a signature shoe of his own to boot, it could throw a wrench into his future college eligibility, despite a long-standing UCLA commitment. His being home-schooled could also mean much fewer highlight videos -- the reels that essentially earned him recognition nationally in the first place.

Nevertheless, it's worth noting that LaMelo's an A-plus shooter and playmaker. There's a reason he's ranked as a top 20 player in the Class of 2019. So even if we won't see him in game action that matters until .. 2020 (?), it's time to give him his due as a legitimate college prospect now, and a potential NBA prospect down the road. Don't let the internet stigma dissuade you from buying into one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2019.