NBA Draft: What the Hornets can expect from LaMelo Ball in 2021

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LaMelo Ball, pictured here in action for the Illawarra Hawks in 2019.
LaMelo Ball in action for the Illawarra Hawks in 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

LaMelo Ball is a name that gets attention. From his stint in Lithuania, to winning the NBL’s Rookie Of The Year award after bypassing college.

And now, he is playing for Michael Jordan’s NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets.

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I had LaMelo Ball as my No.1 player in the draft since I started the draft preparation process, so it is a little surprising to see him down at No.3, but that’s only a positive for Charlotte.

Ball is immediately the best passer on the team and with only Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier ahead of him in the starting backcourt, Melo should be able to start as a rookie sooner rather than later.

He has the size, measuring 6’7 to theoretically guard 1-3 on the court, even if the defensive results for Illawarra don’t really show it.

I doubt this draft class, in general, has many All-Stars, but if there is going to be an All-Star at any point throughout their careers, my money would be on it being LaMelo Ball and he has the opportunity to show that in a situation which will allow him to flourish.

So, what are the Hornets getting? As a player, Melo is a visionary in terms of his passing ability and passing vision, and his handle is absolutely elite for any player, let alone someone standing 6’7.

He shot horribly in the NBL. Below average free-throw shooting (70%) and just 28% from deep are troubling numbers, as is a free throw rate of only 24%.

It matches the eye test too, as Ball avoided contact to attempt floaters when he got into the paint.

Defensively, he also had issues, but he is a good rebounder and there is room for him to be an average defender.

Ball has a fantastic 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio as an 18-year-old in a professional league and also had an impressive steal rate of 2.4%. He has near-star upside in a draft where that may be in short supply.

Expect some struggles from LaMelo in 2021

As most rookies do, expect some big struggles in 2020-21 for Ball as he adjusts to NBA strength and pace.

The shot will be rough, the defense will suck, and his team will be bad. But, make no mistake, Ball will be entertaining.

A few concerns are around his controversial father, LaVar Ball.

Most of this stems from their experience with his brother Lonzo and LaVar’s constant appearances on TV spouting nonsense.

But, the older Ball hasn’t really been present in the media for a while and I don’t think the ‘Ball Circus’ is really any concern for this Hornets team, especially with Jordan in charge.

The Hornets could’ve got themselves a star at pick three. Their owner knows something about being an All-Star from pick three.

LaVar and LaMelo Ball, pictured here in 2019.
LaVar and LaMelo Ball at the Big Baller Brand All American Game in 2019. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

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