The Charlotte Hornets hit the lottery on August 20th, well not really, The Hornets woke up with the best odds to land the 8th overall pick in the NBA Draft and went to sleep with the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. It’s not the #1 overall pick, but a five-slot swing is a win the Hornets will take any day of the week, especially on draft night. With all the emotions filling the air, the Hornets should have just one name in their mind. LaMelo Ball.
The Charlotte Hornets will have plenty of options come draft night, but none other makes more sense than LaMelo Ball. There is probably no player in the 2020 NBA Draft with a higher ceiling than 19-year-old Illawarra Hawks Guard. LaMelo Ball brings more flash and flair to his game than any potential Hornets prospect since Kemba Walker. Ball is a player who pushes the pace and moves the ball extremely well. His tight handle gives him the ability to get to any spot on the floor. He has the potential to be an absolute terror on dribble-drive opportunities, as his tight handle combined with his impressive passing ability is going to allow Ball to collapse defense’s and find open scorers with ease.
Aside from his on-court potential, Ball is already a superstar off the court. Ball has had the spotlight on him since his freshman year at Chino Hills, and that spotlight has only gotten brighter as his career has moved along. Why do I mention that? This is the highest pick the Charlotte Hornets have owned since 2012. Whoever is selected instantly will be seen as the face of the franchise and inherit the pressures and expectations that come along with that title. Ball has become accustomed to that spotlight—he’s been in it for basically his entire basketball career. That’s an important component Charlotte will need to take into consideration when handing over the keys to the franchise.
Now I’m not here to bash Terry Rozier. He’s a good player that came to Charlotte for an opportunity to be a full-time starter. But from his lone season in Charlotte, I don’t see Rozier as a starting PG on a contending playoff team. Rozier is a scorer, he’s a player that has high energy and pushes the pace for his team, but he’s not a player that makes others around him better. For most of the season, the Hornets regulated Rozier to SG in favor of Devonte’ Graham, who I think would be more of a natural SG than he is at PG. Inserting LaMelo Ball into this backcourt would insert probably the only pure PG on the Hornets roster. Rozier in a role where he could offer great bench minutes for a team lacking depth is something I would consider if I’m Charlotte, Rozier came here to be a starter but what would make the team better is if he took on a 6th man role.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing plenty of players have made a career coming of the bench the best example to date is Lou Williams for the Los Angeles Clippers. Rozier in a similar role would make more of an impact than the one he is in currently.
LaMelo Ball elevates the play of those around him because of his style of game, Ball is going to come in day one and be a floor general. It’s so easy for LaMelo ball to get downhill towards the rim and kick the ball out to an open teammate when the defense collapses. Ball is going to open the floor up so much for whatever team he plays for, he is a player that players want to play with; he makes the game easy. For young players, having a player that sets everyone else up to become a better version of themselves expedites progression. The Charlotte Hornets are so close to completing this rebuild puzzle, in my estimation LaMelo Ball is that last piece for Charlotte.