Magic Johnson Says Lonzo Ball Has Highest Basketball IQ of Any NBA PG

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers draft pick Lonzo Ball, right, and Magic Johnson smile as they answer questions during the NBA basketball team's news conference, Friday, June 23, 2017, in El Segundo, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson said Tuesday the New Orleans Pelicans' Lonzo Ball has the highest basketball IQ of any point guard in the NBA right now. 

Johnson made the declaration during an appearance on ESPN's First Take:

ESPN @espn

"There's no point guard in this league whose basketball IQ is higher than Lonzo Ball." —@MagicJohnson on @FirstTake https://t.co/LcLcSwcFbE

Ball is enjoying a terrific season with the Pelicans. He's averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals across 38 appearances. He's also knocking down a career-high 3.0 threes per game while shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc, a vast improvement from his early-career shooting struggles.

The 23-year-old UCLA product ranks 12th among all NBA players in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus for the 2020-21 campaign.

Johnson was the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations when L.A. selected Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. He stepped down from that role in April 2019, and the Lakers traded the point guard to the Pelicans three months later as part of the blockbuster Anthony Davis deal.

Before the draft four years ago, the California native told The Vertical he watched a lot of Johnson's highlights from his playing days with the Lakers from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s.

"I watched tape on Magic when I was young and it's why you can see it in my game," Ball said. "He liked to pass, I like to pass. He was a big point guard, I'm a big point guard. And I feel the way the game is played means a lot to him and me."

Although Ball is enjoying a breakout year in New Orleans, Johnson went on to suggest on First Take he'd be a perfect fit alongside Julius Randle with the New York Knicks:

The 6'6" playmaker has been mentioned in rumors leading up to Thursday's NBA trade deadline, but it's unclear whether the Pelicans will be willing to move him since they can make him a qualifying offer in the offseason and have the ability to match an offer sheet he receives as a restricted free agent.