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Fultz vs. Ball: The Next Great Rivalry.

Fultz Vs. Ball

Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell, Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James. These are just a few of the greatest individual player rivalries in NBA history. In the upcoming NBA Draft, the two top prospects, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, have the potential to turn into the next great rivalry. They are two different players who each took a different path to the position they are in now. From this point forward, Fultz and Ball will be forever connected.

Markelle FultzFrom Humble Beginnings

Throughout the year, Fultz has been considered the favorite to be the Number 1 pick. Fultz put up monster numbers on an abysmal Washington team averaging 23 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks. Before last year, not many people had heard of the young point guard from DeMatha High School in Maryland.

Before his junior year of high school, Fultz was not on his High School’s Varsity team. Playing freshman ball his first year and JV the second, most people didn’t think Fultz would play high major college ball let alone make it to the league. Then came his Junior year and Fultz absolutely blew up. Jumping from a relative unknown — unranked on Rivals in March of 2015 — into the top 10 on ESPN and a McDonald’s All-American.

The do it all guard lives in the gym, his twitter bio even has his hometown as “GYM”. An offensive marvel with elite athleticism, Fultz has no problem getting to the rim or stopping for a smooth pull up jumper. The D.C. native is also very good operating out of the pick and roll. Fultz is a high level competitor who never backs down from a challenge, saying “I think I can be one of the best ones to ever play the game.”

Lonzo Ball: West Coast Wonder

While Fultz became a star out of nowhere, Lonzo Ball has taken a much different path. Ball has always been ranked high, and became the number one point guard in his class by his junior season. Ball committed to UCLA extremely early in his high school career. Lonzo, along with his two younger brothers, who are also UCLA commits, led Chino Hills High (CA) to a 35-0 record with  a state title and national #1 high school ranking his senior year. The eldest Ball brother led the way averaging a triple double and winning numerous Player of the Year awards.

Upon arriving on campus, Ball changed the entire outlook of a UCLA team who went 15-17 the year before. The dynamic playmaking point guard led the Bruin’s to the top offense in the country, leading nation in assists with 7.7 per game. Ball finished the year leading UCLA to the Sweet 16 where they fell to Kentucky.

While Fultz lets his play do the talking, we can consistently find Lonzo and the entire Ball family. His dad, LaVarr Ball, who we’ve seen all of the national media with his recent outlandish claims is his son’s biggest publicist. When asked about why NBA teams should pick Lonzo over Fultz, LaVarr told TMZ- “Why shouldn’t they ? … If you’ve got a kid who makes everybody better, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t take him over a guy that’s just averaging 40 points and does all this stuff and losing? The key to the game is winning. If you want a winner, you pick my boy.”

Fultz vs. Ball: The Next Level

Whether they like it or not, the two PAC-12 Guards will be forever connected. They will most likely be picked right after eachother in the upcoming draft. Lonzo has even started the conversation about them two telling ESPN, “Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him”. The two guards who will one day become the face of the league could have a rivalry for the ages. They play the same position, came out of the same conference, and will be drafted together. With Ball’s recent comments, don’t be shocked if this turns into the next great rivalry.

 

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