For better or worse, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball will be linked together for the duration of their NBA careers.
The Warriors, of course, selected Wiseman with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft with the Charlotte Hornets tabbing Ball one slot later.
While the 19-year-old Wiseman has been solid early on and has impressive per-36 numbers, Ball has been a revelation and currently is seen as the Rookie of the Year front-runner. While Wiseman has never faced Ball on the court, the Warriors rookie center has been impressed by what he has seen from his fellow rookie.
"He's a smart player," Wiseman told reporters Friday before the Warriors face Ball's Hornets. "He can pass, very great team player. I mean, he's just a great player all around so, also he's a 6-7 point guard so you don't really find that many guards that tall and with that much playmaking [ability]. He's just a great player."
Through 31 games, Ball is averaging 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from the 3-point line. Ball's numbers have seen an uptick since he was inserted into the starting lineup as he's averaging 19.5 points per game in 11 games as a starter.
There were doubts about Ball's shooting mechanics, decision-making and lack of defensive intensity before the draft, but the Hornets rookie has already put most of, if not all of those doubts to rest.
It's way too early to start to discuss whether or not the Warriors made the right call in drafting Wiseman over Ball. It will be years before we can truly determine if Golden State errored in passing on Ball, and how Wiseman develops will be the ultimate trump card in any debate.
Through 22 games Wiseman has wowed with his raw athleticism and versatile offensive game. He still has a lot of learning to do and Steve Kerr was quick to temper expectations for the 19-year-old center early on.
The Warriors believe Wiseman can be a generational talent at the center position. Ball already appears to be one of the best young players in the NBA.
They'll meet for the first time Friday when the Hornets visit the Warriors at Chase Center, and Wiseman will have a chance to solidify his Rookie of the Year chances with a good performance against Ball.