The Charlotte Hornets drafted LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft and have watched the youngster put up stellar numbers during his rookie season. Michael Jordan is thrilled that he drafted a new franchise player in the post-Kemba Walker era.
While the Hornets should be commended for doing their proper due diligence on LaMelo Ball, they also have to thank the Golden State Warriors for slapping Ball in the face and lying to him on draft night.
LaMelo Ball looks like a future All-Star
LaMelo Ball played very well for the Hornets during the first half of the 2020-21 season. He averaged 15.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 44.9% from the field, 37.8% from beyond the arc, and 80.2% from the free-throw line in 35 games.
On January 9 against the Atlanta Hawks, Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. He finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in 31 minutes of action.
Thanks to Ball’s phenomenal play, the Hornets are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. It will be fascinating to see if the point guard can lead Charlotte to the playoffs in his first season in the NBA.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Warriors drafted Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, respectively, in the 2020 draft. While both players are putting up sound numbers, Ball is the frontrunner to win the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year Award.
The Warriors needed a big man next to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green, so they took James Wiseman out of Memphis. However, according to former NBA star and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, Golden State was supposed to draft LaMelo Ball.
The Warriors told LaMelo Ball they were going to draft him
According to Jalen Rose, the Warriors lied to LaMelo Ball on the night of the 2020 NBA draft. Golden State reportedly told Ball they would draft him with the second pick.
James Wiseman averaged 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Warriors in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign while shooting 51.0% from the field. While he has shown flashes of being a future difference-maker, Golden State would be a better team this season if the front office drafted Ball.
Since Klay Thompson is out with an Achilles tear, Stephen Curry’s usage rate is really high this season. If the Warriors drafted Ball, head coach Steve Kerr could have played Curry off the ball and let the two-time MVP focus on scoring more instead of running the offense and looking for his own shot.
Ball is a gifted passer and makes the game easier for his teammates. The Warriors, who are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, would likely be more explosive on offense had they kept their promise to Ball.
It will be interesting to see if the Warriors regret lying to LaMelo Ball and drafting James Wiseman over him in a couple of years.
Were the Warriors afraid of LaVar Ball?
LaMelo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, is a polarizing figure. It’s possible the Warriors were afraid of dealing with LaVar and decided not to draft LaMelo.
LaVar has only had one controversial moment this season. He said the Hornets should be starting his son in January.
“My thing is he ain’t happy with that, but he ain’t go show that,” LaVar told TMZ Sports. “If I train you to be the best and always been starting all your life — here is what they don’t get. My boys are not freakin’ role players! They superstars! Let them do what they do!”
LaMelo Ball has started 15 games for the Hornets since LaVar Ball’s comments, so it looks like Charlotte won’t have a LaVar issue moving forward.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.