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Who — or what — can stop the Washington Nationals?

Eddie Matz covers the Washington Nationals and the world of Major League Baseball for ESPN.com. He’s been writing for ESPN since 2002, and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. It was a breeze of a first half for the Washington Nationals. As we emerge from the All-Star break, the Nats

De'Aaron Fox's dad calls out Lonzo Ball, escalating the rivalry between the point guards

De'Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball will be two of the first point guards selected on Thursday. (Getty)
De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball will be two of the first point guards selected on Thursday. (Getty)

Turns out Lonzo Ball isn’t the only point guard with a loudmouth father in this year’s draft class.

De’Aaron Fox’s dad made some LaVar Ball-esque comments in a Bleacher Report piece published Tuesday.

Frustrated that his son is projected to be taken a few spots behind Lonzo Ball in Thursday’s NBA draft despite twice outplaying the former UCLA point guard head-to-head, Aaron Fox offered some sharp words in defense of De’Aaron. Aaron noted that his son had outscored Lonzo twice head-to-head including a signature 39-point performance during the NCAA tournament last March when Kentucky ousted UCLA in the Sweet 16.

“My son already ate his ass up twice,” Aaron Fox said. “[LaVar] can say what he wants to say. I just tell him to go back and watch the film. That’s it. All that yap, yap, yapping, I don’t even got to respond to that. We played them twice. Twice his son got outplayed. I always tell [De’Aaron], let your game speak for it. You ain’t got to talk. You ain’t got to fuss.”

The outspoken words from Aaron Fox come a few months after LaVar Ball dismissed DeAaron’s success against Lonzo when matched up head-to-head. Said LaVar brazenly to ESPN in March, “No one is going to take De’Aaron Fox over him because of one game. It’s about your body of work, and people know what he can do.”

The Fox-versus-Ball debate is likely to flare up sporadically throughout their rookie season next year. They’re both elite point guard prospects, yet they’re both very different players.

On one hand, Aaron Fox is right. De’Aaron did win both head-to-head battles.

Lonzo had a key late layup and 3-pointer to thwart Kentucky’s comeback bid in UCLA’s 97-92 victory at Rupp Arena in December, but De’Aaron was more effective, scoring 20 points, dishing out nine assists and harassing Lonzo into six turnovers. The second game was no contest as De’Aaron attacked Lonzo off the dribble over and over and took advantage of UCLA’s lack of rim protection in the paint.

On the other hand, LaVar’s right too. Head-to-head is just a small element of the evaluation. The body of work matters more.

In his lone season at UCLA, Lonzo emerged as one of the great passers the college game has produced in the past quarter century. He transformed the Bruins from sub-.500 underachievers to one of the nation’s premier teams with his competitiveness, unselfishness, court vision and knack for pushing tempo.

While Lonzo’s jumper is hardly a work of art, it’s not the liability that De’Aaron’s outside shooting is at this stage of his career. De’Aaron is the fastest point guard in the draft, the superior pick-and-roll threat and the more intimidating on-ball defender right now, but Lonzo impacts the game without dominating the ball on offense and excels playing the passing lanes on defense.

Ultimately, the Lakers have more reason to take Lonzo at No. 2 on Thursday night, both because of his transcendent talent and his potential appeal in star-driven Los Angeles.

But whichever team drafts De’Aaron will be getting an impact player who will have something to prove anytime he sees Lonzo on the other team.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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