NBA

Who is the better passer: Hornets' LaMelo Ball or Hawks' Trae Young?

On Saturday (ET), two of the league's best young point guards will go head-to-head when the Hornets face the Hawks.

On one side, LaMelo Ball, the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft who was crowned last season's Rookie of the Year. On the other, Trae Young, a one-time All-Star who is fresh off of a magical run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

With both of them being under the age of 24, this will be the third of many battles to come between LaMelo and Trae.

While there are many aspects to both of their games, one thing, in particular, they're both known for is their passing ability. LaMelo is a walking highlight reel and few players dish out as many dimes on a nightly basis as Young.

Which one is better in that regard? Our NBA.com staff debates.

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Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): I'm going LaMelo here.

If the question was who was the better playmaker right now, I'd probably go Trae, but we're just talking about passing, so it's LaMelo for me.

This isn't to say Trae isn't a good passer in his own right - he's obviously capable of putting together a couple of highlight-reel passes - but he's not on LaMelo's level.

I mean, just look at this mixtape of no-look dimes from LaMelo:

A whole mixtape of just no-looks!

Let's not forget the underhand touchdown pass against the Pistons.

I don't think we need to go any further, the proof is in the tape.

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Ah, I see Carlan is all about flash when it comes to passing.

Look, this is really close. We're talking about two of the better passers in the league today. Some of this might have to do with him being around longer and having a larger body of work, but I gravitate towards Trae in this discussion.

First of all, Trae has the edge over LaMelo in the simplest form - the raw numbers. Last season, Trae ranked third in the league with 9.4 assists per game compared to LaMelo's 6.1 assists per game. The gap is smaller this season, but Trae (9.2) still has a decent lead over LaMelo (7.5). Volume matters.

If you want to get a little more granular, Trae ranks ahead of LaMelo in The BBall Index's passing creation volume, passing versatility and playmaking so far this season, while LaMelo has a slight lead in passing creation quality and passing efficiency.

Secondly, I think there's a little more manipulation to Trae's passing than LaMelo's right now. We all know about the games he plays with centers from floater range, but he does stuff like this on a pretty consistent basis:

Again, it's close, but I'll take Trae.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Wow, choosing between these two wasn't easy, and that speaks to how good both of these guys are as passers. Both Ball and Young are entertainers in every sense of the word, something that especially holds true with respect to their passing ability.

Difficult a decision as it was, I have to go with Ball.

Just a month into the second season of his career, LaMelo has provided us with countless jaw-droppers, from no-looks to lobs to pocket passes to my personal favourite so far:

That pass alone was enough to be the difference-maker.

Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Both are immensely gifted passers, which only adds to their otherworldly ability as shot creators. I'm going to lean Ball only because I think he sees the game a step ahead of Young.

Ball is equally as dangerous in transition as he is in the halfcourt and anticipates openings in ways that few others can. While Young may have the gaudier assist numbers (16.5 potential assists per game compared to 12.9 for Ball), it's also a byproduct of having the ball in his hands nearly three extra minutes per game. Ball averages nearly two fewer dribbles per touch and is more willing to keep the ball moving even if it doesn't directly lead to assists.

You can't go wrong, both are elite playmakers.

Stats are updated through Thursday, Nov. 18.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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