This article is the first of several articles in which I will provide a breakdown of various players’ 2021-22 season and give them a letter grade for how they played. The Charlotte Hornets had several players go above-and-beyond their projections in 2022, so let’s get started.
Given that LaMelo Ball is the clear MVP and leader of this team, I think it is essential to look back upon his season first.
The offensive power that Ball brings to this team not only in terms of scoring, but also in terms of his incredible court vision and playmaking is a big reason that Charlotte increased it’s win total by 10 games this season.
At just 20-years-old, the Hornets front office (and fans alike) have to be excited about the season that Ball had.
In 75 games, Ball averaged 20.1 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, and 7.6 assists per game. Not only are these impressive numbers, but they significantly contributed to making the Charlotte offense as deadly as it was.
Ball is a unique point guard. At 6’7”, he’s a major threat when running downhill on the fast break. This season he showcased his ability to finish at the rim in those run-and-gun situations or make a perfect pass to an open teammate if the defense crashes.
His playmaking ability mimics that of NBA legend Jason Williams, as Ball too enjoys to make flashy passes both in transition and in the half court set.
Similar to his brother Lonzo Ball, LaMelo made numerous full court outlet passes this season that were accurate and well timed. This level of passing combined with his incredible basketball IQ was the perfect recipe for Ball to have a breakout season in terms of passing.
His finishing is another skill of his that defenses must look out for. He can jump off of one or two feet and is a very crafty finisher. One negative aspect of his finishing ability is that, although he is taller than the average point guard, his vertical is not extremely high, which can cause some trouble for him when going to the rim against tall shot blockers.
Although he struggled from long range during his rookie year, his 38.9% shooting form three this year is much more efficient. He has proven to be a shooting threat both in catch-and-shoot situations and off the dribble.
Easily the biggest weakness of his game is his defense. Although he is not a great defender, Ball can hold his own on the perimeter and can be very sneaky in the passing lanes to get a steal or deflect passes.
Unfortunately, being very young and inexperienced, he has a defensive tendency to close out too high when guarding off ball, which allows opponents to slip past him into the lane when this happens.
Overall player grade for the 2021-2022 season: A
Overall, Ball had an amazing season and is living up to the high expectations set before him. The only reason he does not receive an A+ grade is because of his defensive struggles. Nevertheless, the Hornets are in good hands and, barring injury or other circumstances, will be for a long time.