Should the Hornets be worried about LaMelo Ball?

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images) /

There is a certain performance level that is expected from LaMelo Ball. Unfortunately, the face of the Charlotte Hornets franchise has failed to meet the expectations placed upon him early in the 2023-24 season.

Ball has struggled from the field in four of the first five games this year. The former third-overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft has failed to make more than 26.7% of his field goal attempts in those contests. As things stand now, the 46.7% conversion rate in the season’s second game appears to be an outlier. So far, Ball’s 29.7% overall shooting percentage is the second-worst on the Hornets and the worst of the Hornets’ starters and key players.

The frequency with which Ball is making three-point field goals is also concerning. There is some level of forgiveness that be given to an overall disappointing field goal percentage if three-pointers are falling at a good rate. The problem? This is not something that applies to Ball. Making on average 2.0 out of 7.4 attempts, Ball is shooting just 27% from three-point range. This is the third-worst mark on the Hornets and the second-worst of players that actually matter.

The fact that Ball is living near the bottom of the Hornets’ shooting percentages is far from ideal. While there are other parts to his game, such as his team-leading 8.6 assists per game, the upcoming contract extension he signed that kicks in after the year was not agreed to on Charlotte’s part for passing. There is a level of scoring proficiency and efficiency that is expected of Ball, and he has struggled to show either consistently.

Only five games have been played and Ball is coming off a season-ending injury from last season, but it is safe to say that significantly more was expected from Ball for this season than what has been seen so far. The Hornets are going to need Ball to be less of a George Costanza-esque chucker and someone who can make shots at a consistent rate from all over the court. If he is unable to show that, things could get really ugly once Charlotte is on the hook to pay him a significantly larger salary than what he is being paid right now.