LaMelo Ball, the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, hasn’t started a game for the Charlotte Hornets yet, but that hasn’t stopped him from making his presence felt.
Ball dominated against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, putting up a career-high 27 points in 31 minutes (also a career-high), along with nine assists, five rebounds and four steals. He knocked down all nine free throws he attempted, and two of his nine assists set up late-game three-pointers for Devonte’ Graham, which sealed the Hornets’ 126-114 upset win over Milwaukee.
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It was the best game of Ball’s young career, and his head coach John Borrego was impressed by what he saw.
“He was very aggressive tonight,” Borrego said via LonzoWire. “He’s got to continue to be himself. He’s fearless. He’s aggressive. He’s attacking the paint. He’s getting to the free throw line. He’s making plays for others. He kept the pressure on Milwaukee all night and he did it with a poise without giving up a [turnover] going the other way.
“But his growth, I love his fearlessness, his ability to bounce back even when things don’t go his way on one end of the floor. He’s a special kid. He’s only getting better but I thought he handled himself and he managed the game tonight. I think he did a great job of balancing aggressiveness, poise and making the right play. A really special performance by him tonight.”
Could Ball get the chance to start soon?
Ball got his chance to shine after Terry Rozier injured his ankle at the end of the first half. Ball started the second half and, well, we saw what happened.
Ball has played in all 20 of the Hornets’ games this season, but he’s never started one. Hornets fans have been making noise about Ball getting a chance to start, and Rozier’s injury — he was initially diagnosed with an ankle sprain, so his status is up in the air — could provide an opening for that.
But Ball seems happy with whatever happens. He told the media after the game that he’s having the time of his life playing for the Hornets, and it certainly shows.
“We have great chemistry,” Ball said via LonzoWire. “Every time we get on the court, we show the off-court chemistry that we have on the court. And that’s great for the team. It’s just everybody around the team, they love each other. We love being around each other. There’s no cliques or anything. Just everybody on the team just has fun with each other.”
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