Hornets

What to Expect From Buzz City’s New Franchise Face

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Last week, the Charlotte Hornets selected LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick in this year’s draft. Most scouts believe Ball possesses the most talent in this year’s draft class, and this thinking is accurate. Ball is a 6’8″ point guard with a strong passing ability and playmaking skills.

 

The Chino Hills native made history on draft night with older brother Lonzo Ball, becoming the first brothers drafted in the top five of the NBA. Though he did not play in college, fans witnessed Ball’s development from his high-school career to his professional career overseas.

Unconventional Path to the NBA

The youngest Ball brother, who played for Chino Hills for his first two high-school years, sometimes got caught up in the game’s hype by taking deep threes (confidently) and not necessarily playing defense.

At 16, Melo and middle brother LiAngelo took their talents overseas in Lithuania to further develop their game. That move, in the end, was not the best. After missing his junior year to become a professional basketball player, Ball had to decide what path he wanted to take to the NBA.

While playing for his father’s league, the JBA, Ball made detectable growth. He became a leader on the court and learned how to get his teammates involved. Ball finished his basketball career in high school (going against his father’s will and not staying in the JBA) by playing for Spire Institute in Northeast Ohio. During this stage of his career, fans saw a more mature LaMelo.

The decision to forgo his last eligible year and not to play college basketball did not come as easy to Melo as it did Lonzo. The NCAA did not allow LaMelo to play in college; the gifted point guard left for Australia, where he only played 12 games.

In those dozen contests, Ball made an impression with NBL by averaging 17 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists and won Rookie of the Year, beating out RJ Hampton.

What can Buzz City expect?

With his prodigious talent, it was easy to choose the best player in this year’s draft. With his basketball IQ and passing skills, LaMelo’s high-level playmaking skills will translate with the Hornets’ offense. Having him on the court will help sharp-shooters such as PJ Washington and Miles Bridges in the half-court, and most importantly, in transition.

What he will need to improve on, especially during the season, is his defense and shot selection. Ball shot 37.4 percent from the field and 28 percent from three, rarely shooting any midrange shots except for floaters. Defensively, his lateral quickness should improve once he starts using his length.

Strictly Guards?

Furthermore, with Ball joining a guard-heavy team, what can Hornets’ fans expect? Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham complemented each other last year, and the Hornets expected Rozier to become the new franchise face in 2019. Graham had a breakout season and was a contender for Most Improved Player. Graham and Rozier developed chemistry as they shared the backcourt and switched between the 1 and 2.

Now the Hornets’ staff must make challenging decisions. Do they keep all three guards or try to trade away Rozier or Graham to start building around Ball, creating a team that could contend for the playoffs? Basketball fans will have to wait and see.

Picking up Melo was an excellent choice for the Hornets, especially if they want a franchise hooper. Melo’s potential to become a successful basketball player is close, but only he can determine that outcome.

About Myicha Drakeford

Lover of basketball and passion for writing. Getting stories out and enjoying this hobby of mine.

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