Break up the Charlotte Hornets; that’s two wins in a row for the good guys. The Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs fell in sequence this week. There couldn’t have been a better time for back-to-back wins. The Hornets were riding a seven-game losing streak. They had given up huge games to two of the game’s biggest stars (Jason Tatum and Nikola Jokić) in games six and seven of the streak.
It was the perfect time for the Hornets to be saved by their own star player—LaMelo Ball. Over the last two games, Ball has averaged 29 points, nine rebounds, and over 12 assists in that span. Ball is known for his ability to create shots for others, but it has been his scoring and shooting that has been particularly remarkable of late. Over the last three games, Ball has shot 40% from 3 on over 11 attempts per game.
Charlotte Hornets’ Lamelo Ball is ahead of the Curry curve
Despite playing in 21 fewer games in the first three seasons of his career, Ball has made 68 more three-pointers. The ball is part of a generation of players that matured while Steph Curry was manipulating what a good and bad shot was. The idea of Ball pulling up from halfcourt isn’t novel, nor is the high volume of threes per game. While Ball is currently averaging over 10 attempts from three per game, it took Curry until his seventh season to average double-digit three-point attempts per game.
Ball’s proficiency from deep is based in part on the evolution of basketball. The other part is that Ball is exceptional at putting the ball in the hoop. According to StatMuse.com, only Curry, Ball, and Kyrie Irving currently average 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists, on three or more made threes per game.
While the Hornets have struggled this season, it’s important not to forget the impact Ball has had (even at his young age) on better teams. Before injuries sunk the Hornets’ season last year, Ball made the All-Star game while leading a playoff-caliber team. Ball’s contributions are more than empty stats, his ability to make possessions easier for his teammates elevates the entire team.
While there is a lot of conversation about the future of the franchise, it’s important to look at the talent already on the roster. Regardless of what high draft pick is added to the Hornets this offseason, they’ll instantly be able to play with a high-scoring, passing savant. Ball displays the skill, talent, and court awareness to be a star on a contending team. It might feel far away at the moment, Hornets fans, but the first piece to building something great is already in Charlotte.