- LaMelo Ball has been on fire in February, averaging 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists while shooting 51% from three.
- Ball’s shooting has been more consistent than expected, and his playmaking has dazzled in the NBA.
- The Hornets have been crushing teams with Ball on the floor in February, and he looks like a centrepiece player for a playoff contender.
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It is still early into the 2020-21 NBA season, but LaMelo Ball looks to be the franchise star the Charlotte Hornets have been waiting for.
Ball is averaging a solid 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists per game on the season, but he has exploded in February. Over his last five games, all of which came as a starter, he’s averaging 22.6 points per game, with 51% shooting from three.
On Monday, Ball scored 24 points, with 7 rebounds and 10 assists, while shooting 7-of-12 from three to help the Hornets get a 119-94 win over the Houston Rockets. Ball became the youngest player to hit seven three-pointers in a game.
Considered one of the most divisive prospects in the draft, the positives of Ball’s skillset has translated well to the NBA. His jumper has been consistent, and his play-making has been as good as advertised. Heading into the draft, Ball’s shot selection and turnovers had been scrutinised, but he has shot below 30% just four times on the season, and his 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is among the best for a player with his usage.
Ball’s jumper isn’t “pretty,” and his mechanics are inconsistent, but one thing helping his efficiency in the NBA is that he’s taken more catch-and-shoot threes than pull-up threes.
Hornets coach James Borrego told reporters that he, too, was concerned with Ball’s shot before the draft until he watched Ball work out.
“There was concern on my part,” Borrego said. “But when we went to L.A. to interview him and watch him, there was just a confidence about him in his shot. I think as I sat there with [general manager] Mitch [Kupchak], I looked over at him and said, ‘He’s gonna be fine.’ The kid oozes confidence. He believes it’s going in. That’s at least half the battle in this thing. He’s gonna continue that. He’s fearless.”
While Ball’s shooting has been a pleasant surprise, his playmaking is what boosts him into another tier of player.
Hornets players run the floor hard, knowing Ball will find them.
And in the half-court, Ball can create something out of nothing.
In the last five games, the Hornets have a 117 offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions), a 108 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) for a net rating of 8.9. The Hornets have been almost dead-even with opponents for the season with Ball on the floor.
It’s a small sample size, and not even the best among the Hornets over this stretch, but encouraging. As of now, Ball looks to be a core player for a young, exciting Hornets team that is currently in the playoff mix.
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