Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson isn’t surprised by teammate Lonzo Ball’s recent success.
“Lonzo’s a great player,” Williamson said Monday night after the Pelicans edged the Utah Jazz 129-124. “I just wish he got the full respect he deserves.”
Williamson and Brandon Ingram each notched 26 points, but Ball was right behind them with 23 points.
Williamson had elaborated on Ball’s playmaking abilities after the pair combined for 54 points and 14 assists in a 129-125 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
“Me and Lonzo, our games complement each other’s so well that there are times me and Lonzo are just playing basketball out there,” he said, per Jacob Rude of Lonzo Wire. “… We give each other confidence.”
It has taken Ball some time to get going since he was drafted with the second pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017. He has played no less than 30.3 minutes per game in each of his four seasons, but he’s breaking out in his second season with New Orleans.
The UCLA product entered Monday’s game averaging a career-high 14.5 points with a team-high 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals in 31.7 minutes per game. He has also improved his subpar play from beyond the arc, shooting a career-best 39.3 percent. His field-goal (42.8) and free-throw percentages (76.3) are also career highs.
“The guy who hasn’t gotten credit—he’s gotten credit, but not near as much as he deserves—is Lonzo,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said on The Lowe Post (via Christian Clark of NOLA.com).
As much as Williamson and Van Gundy are piling on the praise, the Pelicans are only 15-19, and Ball’s assist, steal and rebound (4.2 per game) figures are the lowest of his career.
That could mean moving Ball, and New Orleans has reportedly been gauging trade interest in him ahead of the March 25 deadline, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.