In a piece on the Players Tribune, Pelicans star Lonzo Ball revealed a list of the five toughest players he has ever had to guard.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
He can shoot from half court, so you have to pick him up right when he crosses that line. And any time you have to guard a guy out that far — especially someone who can move like Dame — it’s tough to stay in front of him because he just has so much space to maneuver.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
With James, it’s either gonna be a shot, or a foul. He kind of teases you by hanging the ball out there, like he’s daring you to take it. And as soon as you reach, he either hits you with the stepback while you’re leaning, or he’ll let you get into him and draw the foul. He’s savvy like that.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
You can’t force Kyrie to do what you want him to do. Between his crossover — which is probably the most unstoppable in the league — and his quickness, he’s deadly, man. He can go left, he can go right, he can step back or he can go downhill right at you. He’s just got too many ways to get where he wants to go.
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
To have that kind of size and still have a guard’s skill set is just crazy. I would say the only thing KD doesn’t have is elite strength. So when you play against him, you have to be physical and stay up in him. And you gotta ride him over every screen, because you know his teammates are trying to get him shots.
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
I give him a lot of respect … well, obviously because he’s from L.A. But also because the first time I stepped on an NBA court after getting drafted was against Demar.It was during the offseason and we were at the Lakers’ facility before training camp even started. There was a bunch of guys working out in L.A. and we got a game of five-on-five going.
Lonzo Ball is considered to be among the NBA’s best perimeter defenders. As he struggles to develop his outside shooting stroke, his identity as a defender is what makes him so valuable for the Pelicans this season.
Still, even without that title, his list is similar to what we’ve seen before. Durant, Dame, Kyrie, Harden — their knack and talent for scoring shouldn’t be news to anybody. Perhaps what’s most interesting is who he didn’t include on the list.
A case can be made for a lot of stars who were noticeably absent from Lonzo’s five (Steph, Klay, Paul George).
Either way, at 22-years-old, there is still plenty of time for updates.