Zion Williamson Praises Lonzo Ball's Growth as Player, Leader with Pelicans

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) and guard Lonzo Ball (2) talk on the court in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Zion Williamson sang the praises of New Orleans Pelicans teammate Lonzo Ball.

Pelicans guard J.J. Redick brought up the topic of Ball on his podcast, The Old Man and The Three, and said the 23-year-old has become the "perfect fit" for New Orleans' tandem of Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Williamson, who was a guest on the show, concurred and said Ball has not only improved in visible areas on the court but also with less tangible qualities such as leadership.

As soon as the Pelicans landed Ball in the Anthony Davis trade and selected Williamson first overall in the 2019 draft, fans fantasized about what kind of highlight-reel plays they could combine to create. As Redick said, the pair seemed to complement one another nicely.

Due to Williamson's surgery to repair a torn meniscus, he and Ball didn't have much time to build any continuity. In the same podcast, the All-Star forward acknowledged how he had trouble adjusting even when he was healthy enough to play.

This year, New Orleans is getting to see what Ball and Williamson can do together. According to NBA.com, Ball has assisted Williamson more times (52) than anyone else on the roster, and Williamson is shooting 59.2 percent on feeds from the former UCLA star.

Of course, the looming question is whether Ball will get to stick around and continue to work alongside the 6'8", 284-pound powerhouse.

The 23-year-old guard is due to become a restricted free agent in the offseason, and nailing down his true value could be tricky for the Pelicans. He's averaging 14.8 points, 5.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 39.7 percent from the perimeter.

You'd expect New Orleans to want Ball for the long term, but his situation isn't as straightforward as that of Ingram, who was a lock to receive a five-year, $158.3 million max deal. B/R's Jake Fischer reported the team has also explored his trade market: "You'd be hard-pressed to find a team New Orleans hasn't phoned to gauge interest in Ball, [Redick] and Eric Bledsoe."

That's not to say Ball is guaranteed to leave, but the Pelicans at least appear open to weighing all of their options.