In just his second NBA season, Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball has established himself as one of the best passers in the league. With an assist in Thursday night’s game against the Miami Heat, Ball put himself in elite company.
Just over a minute into the game, he assisted on a dunk from Miles Bridges. That was the 700th assist in Ball’s young career. Only one player — LeBron James — was younger than Ball upon reaching the 700 assist milestone.
LaMelo Ball is the 2nd-youngest player in NBA history to reach 700 career assists (20-179d), only behind LeBron James (20-12d). pic.twitter.com/lgG2SM6IEc
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 18, 2022
As impressive as the achievement is at face value, it’s even more impressive when we dig a little deeper.
LeBron reached the 700 assist milestone in the 33rd game of his second NBA season. It was the 159th game and start of his career. He averaged 39.6 minutes a game in his rookie season and, through the game where he logged his 700th assist, was at 40.8 minutes per game in his second year.
Thursday night’s game, meanwhile, was only the 104th for Ball and his 84th start. He averaged 28.8 minutes per game as a rookie and, heading into Tuesday’s game, was at 32.6 minutes a game in Year 2.
So, in terms of passing productivity, we can argue that Ball has been even more efficient than LeBron.
And even if that wasn’t the case, LeBron is one of the greatest players in NBA history and was a superstar from Day 1 when he came out of high school. If you’ve reached a milestone and LeBron is the only one who’s done it at a younger age, you’re doing something right.