Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets may have found their next franchise player in the post-Kemba Walker era, as rookie LaMelo Ball has looked really good during his rookie season. The youngest Ball brother was the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, and he has made Jordan look smart for picking him.
Against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 29, Ball put on a show from start to finish for Hornets fans, who watched LaMelo accomplish something that Jordan never did during his legendary career with the Chicago Bulls.
LaMelo Ball is a tremendous passer
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Just like his brother, New Orleans Pelicans star Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball is a gifted passer. He’s the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double and consistently makes the right play in transition and half-court sets, a trait many rookies struggle with.
Through his first 19 games in the NBA, LaMelo is averaging 11.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.9 assists while shooting 41.2% from the field, 28.6% from beyond the arc, and 70.0% from the free-throw line. Michael Jordan and the Hornets need their youngster to shoot the ball better from deep, but that will come with more reps.
LaMelo has made several highlight passes this season, but turnovers have been an issue. The 19-year-old is averaging 2.5 turnovers per game. Hornets head coach James Borrego previously said LaMelo has to address that part of his game if he wants to play more minutes moving forward.
For the most part, though, LaMelo Ball has been impressive for Michael Jordan. The six-time NBA champion, who is universally recognized as the greatest basketball player of all time, watched LaMelo complete a play against the Pacers that not even he pulled off back in the day.
LaMelo Ball bounced the ball off Domantas Sabonis’ back to end the game
With the Hornets up three with 0.9 seconds left in regulation, LaMelo Ball threw the ball off Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis’ back to end the game. Sabonis had his back turned to LaMelo, who quickly realized he could ice the game for the Hornets by pulling off a popular streetball play.
Michael Jordan had to thoroughly enjoy this play by LaMelo, who finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and seven assists against the Pacers. Even though Ball did commit five turnovers, the Hornets defeated a tough Indiana team, and winning is all Jordan cares about.
Michael Jordan may be the best NBA player of all time, but he doesn’t have a good track record of drafting good players since becoming the Hornets’ owner. While it’s still early, it appears the Bulls icon found his next star in LaMelo Ball after losing Kemba Walker to the Boston Celtics in 2019.
Will Michael Jordan’s Hornets make the playoffs this season?
The Hornets have made the playoffs twice since Michael Jordan bought the team. Given how competitive MJ is, that has to be eating him alive.
With LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, and PJ Washington leading the team this season, the Hornets have a good chance of reaching the postseason and causing havoc. It’s going to be fascinating to see if Jordan’s group can continue to play smart basketball and clinch one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.