LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball played their first game for Prienai Vytautas against Kaunas Zalgiris second team in "Big Baller Brand Challenge Games.“ Vytautas won 90-80 (16:19, 16:21, 31:17, 24:26) and both brothers had some minutes to prove their awesomeness on the court. I mean, with all the hype and the talks, you would expect them to be one step ahead of everyone on the court. Sadly, that was not the case.
Let's talk about LiAngelo first. In 28 minutes on the court, LiAngelo scored 19 points, grabbed 3 boards, dished one pass, and made a couple of steals. Those are some decent statistics, right? However, if anyone watched the game, they would tell you that LiAngelo Ball looked pretty lost on the court. Firstly, he only made 1/5 three-pointers, but let's assume that it was his first game and he might still improve in this category. However, LiAngelo is the worst when it comes to team defense. It looks like no one ever showed him how does team defense work and that is super important in European basketball. So, if LiAngelo Ball wants to have any chance to actually play against good teams and make some impact in Prienai Vytautas, he must start paying attention in practice and understanding how defense works. Also, LiAngelo made some silly faults and looked completely lost on offense, even though he scored 19 points. Most of those points were forced by power against the younger Zalgiris-2 team. Yes, if you thought that LiAngelo played against grown-ups, you are wrong. Zalgiris-2 roster is mostly youngsters just like LaMelo and LiAngelo. It means that LiAngelo did not prove to be any better than casual Lithuanian youngsters tonight. I doubt he will be able to provide and good service for Vytautas against teams like Zalgiris, Lietuvos Rytas, or Lietkabelis, where huge guys, who play for Lithuanian International team, will wait for him inside of the paint. As for now, LiAngelo doesn't seem like a player who could play in NBA (unless his dad will buy him a contract), but he has some potential to be a decent player in Europe if he works on his discipline and starts to show team efforts.
As for LaMelo, he is still super young. At only 16 years old, he showed that he could be a decent point guard, especially when it comes to passing the ball. LaMelo made some badass passes, increased the pace while he was on the court and showed that in near future he might be a cool point guard, worthy to play in the NBA. That said, LaMelo has no discipline whatsoever yet. He made some illogical shots from way beyond the arc, rushed way too many times, and did not care about the defense. He was only trying to steal the ball all the time, not caring that his failed attempts usually led to easy points for Zalgiris-2 team. Also, LaMelo would have fouled out in first 10 minutes if refs were blowing the whistle correctly. But it seemed like refs knew that they cannot get LaMelo out of the game in this exhibition match. However, no one will care about LaMelo in Lithuanian Basketball League, so he might want to reconsider trying to steal the ball so often. And he might want to consider learning some discipline together with his brother. At the moment, LaMelo looked like this super talented spoiled kid, who only wanted to show-off. If he wants to play in Lakers, he needs to understand the importance of hard work and discipline.
And yet, the real star of the game was Zalgiris-2 youngster Rokas Jokubaitis, who scored 31 points. The dude is only 17 and he was playing against grown-up professionals. Maybe the Lakers will sign him in the end? I mean, Jokubaitis showed that he can be as good as Ball brothers. And we must consider the fact that Ball brothers were playing with grown-up professionals against kids, while Jokubaitis was playing with kids against grown-up professionals. Rokas Jokubaitis will be happy to learn that over 1 million people saw this game.