LaMelo Ball came into the league with question marks about his three-point shooting, his defense, and even his character. Some criticisms were fair some were not but one thing that can be said about LaMelo Ball above all, he has superstar potential, something the Charlotte Hornets haven’t had in awhile. The closest player to that superstar status in the last decade was Kemba Walker a player that by all accounts was an All-Star during his time with Charlotte but never a player considered among the elite ten players in the NBA.
LaMelo Ball has the potential to be one of the few superstars in Charlotte Hornets franchise history. Ball is currently leading all NBA rookies in points per game (14.4), assist per game (6.1), and total steals (37). All done while sitting at 4th in total minutes amongst rookies. LaMelo has made the most out of every opportunity, he’s rewarded the Hornets franchise for trusting him with more minutes with his gradual production.
What makes LaMelo such a promising player is his immense feel for the game. Where Ball flashes his potential is in the fast break, Charlotte currently sits at 5th in the league in points scored off fast breaks (via team rankings) mainly because of LaMelo Ball’s presence and how much pressure he puts on opponents to get back in transition. Here are some examples of LaMelo Ball just absolutely punishing teams in the fast-break.
What a pass from LaMelo Ball. pic.twitter.com/KOf5N9NGU9— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 13, 2020
LaMelo pushes the ball down the floor so quickly with his outlet passes, transition defenses have almost zero time to react, to what is happening in front of them. This is by far one of my favorite plays by LaMelo Ball this season, as here Ball sneaks in a no-look bounce pass between two magic defenders in transition to Malik Monk. Forget how insanely difficult this pass is, notice how nobody had a chance to catch this pass but Malik M`onk.
still thinking about this pass from lamelo ball pic.twitter.com/rwIfvpqYFB— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 20, 2020
Even with no summer league and a condensed training camp, LaMelo Ball’s development looks well ahead of schedule. One of the huge question marks coming into the league for Ball was his three-point shooting, its safe to say that Ball answered that question when he grilled Houston for seven three-pointers tying the franchise record for most three-point shots made in a game by a rookie. LaMelo Ball currently sits 2nd amongst rookies in three-pointers made (46) per basketball reference only behind Sacramento Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton (51) who is a full-year older than Ball.
Hornets defeat the Rockets, 119-94.— Ashley Stroehlein (@ashstro) February 9, 2021
LaMelo Ball tied a franchise record for most 3s made in a game by a rookie with 7. (Below are a few of those from my view tonight.)
Ball finished the game with 24 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds.#AllFly | #NBA | @wcnc pic.twitter.com/5TEY8TBA4o
What truly impresses with LaMelo Ball is his confidence level in the Hornets offense. Ball is in complete control when he is on the floor, sure there are times where he looks like a rookie who is out of control, but those moments are few and far between compared to his display of brilliance. Plays like these are why you select LaMelo Ball #3 overall in the NBA Draft and don’t think twice about it.
The ability to get around defenders, collapse defenses, and create easy looks for his teammates makes LaMelo Ball a nightmare for defenses. What impressed me in this clip was the sheer will to not only draw two defenders but the mid-air circus pass to Bismack Biyombo that I’m not even sure Ball was able to get his head around to see where Bismack was standing.
Utah defends this pick-and-roll situation really well, they keep everything in front of them and doesn’t allow Biyombo to roll towards the rim freely. LaMelo Ball’s talent shines through on this play as he is able to grab the attention of both defenders and find Biyombo underneath the basket for an easy layup. Taking a closer look watch how LaMelo drives and keeps his head up towards the rim until the last minute as if he’s going for the score, fools the defender, and frees up Biyombo. This is next-level stuff rookies are not supposed to be this far ahead especially for someone who is just 19-years old. This is a savvy move for someone who is just a quarter into their rookie season.
LaMelo Ball’s defense is still a work in progress but the potential is there. Ball has made strides since his lone season with the Illawarra Hawks where he just wasn’t giving enough effort. Ball has become a really crafty defender by getting into passing lanes and creating turnovers. The effort is night and day now with LaMelo as he is giving a ton more attention to staying in-front of ball-handlers than he did overseas.
LaMelo Ball is eventually going to figure out his defense as he fills out his frame. But for right now his effort to stay in front of his defender and using his active hands to create turnovers like this, will do as he starts to round his game out and become a complete player.
LaMelo Ball is only scratching the surface of how good he can truly be, I can’t wait to see what player he shapes up becoming in the future. But for right now let’s enjoy the LaMelo Ball experience the highs and lows because as it presently stands the Charlotte Hornets got a steal for a player that probably should have been the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.