Lamelo Ball may come with his share of baggage, but the young star has the potential to carry the Charlotte Hornets into the spotlight with him.
After five additional months of speculation and hot debate on the target of the 3rd overall pick in the delayed 2020 NBA Draft (and falling in and out of love with virtually every top-10 prospect along the way), the Charlotte Hornets kept their selection and saw their hat land on the head of prodigal son and general sports oddity LaMelo Ball.
The 19-year-old brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo and son of infamous hot-take monger Lavar Ball, Lamelo gained early notoriety of his own in viral videos, launching ice-cold deep balls from Curry-land at the tender age of 15 for Chino Hills High School in California (and calling his shot along the way).
Lamelo’s path to the NBA is entirely unique. He became the youngest American professional basketball player ever after joining Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League in 2017 at the age of 16. In 2018, he played for the Los Angeles Ballers of father Lavar’s Junior Basketball Association (which folded soon after). Although he displayed early interest in playing college ball for UCLA like brother Lonzo, his professional stints and employment of an agent likely would have disqualified him from collegiate competition. He instead headed to the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s NBL after high school, winning Rookie of the Year in the process.
Ball doesn’t come without his drawbacks: his odd form and over-confident shot selection translated to just 37.7% shooting from the field for Illawara last season, and 25% from deep; despite his great size and length at the guard position (6’7″ with a 6’10” wingspan), his defensive effort and discipline is lacking at times; he’s also the NBA’s Doogie Howser, having been in the spotlight from a young age, and even starring in his family’s reality show.
However, all of the social media hype in the world doesn’t land you at the top of an NBA club’s scouting board. Maybe not the average one anyway.
Beneath all of the sparkle and shine lies a big, talented, and accomplished athlete with an eye for creating and executing highlight plays. Let’s take a look at a few reasons Ball has the ability to become a star in the NBA and elevate the Charlotte Hornets’ young core to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.