Like many rookies when they arrive in the NBA, LaMelo Ball has had his fair share of up-and-downs. The 19-year-old Charlotte Hornet clearly has a lot to learn when it comes to consistency.
Ball quickly caught the attention of the league when he became the youngest player to ever record a triple double on Jan. 9 against the Atlanta Hawks. He spent most of the Hornets first few games as the first player off the bench and often found himself in the closing rotation.
Those spectacular moments seemed to grow more isolated as the Hornets continued their 2021 campaign. The 19-year-old turned the ball over five times in loss to the Raptors on Jan. 14, before following it up two days later with a lackluster shooting game. Charlotte head coach James Borrego cut Ball’s minutes down to 16:34 in Friday’s game against the Bulls, but the Hornets rookie still struggled, committing five more turnovers in his short stint off the bench.
Many began to wonder if Charlotte would stick by a smaller dose of playing time for their No. 3 overall pick and Borrego seemed to confirm so following the team’s fourth consecutive loss to Chicago.
“If you’re turning the ball over five times in 16 minutes, that ain’t gonna cut it for me,” Borrego said per The Charlotte Observer. “If you’re doing that on the offensive end, you better be bringing something defensively.”
"If you’re turning the ball over five times in 16 minutes, that ain’t gonna cut it for me. If you’re doing that on the offensive end, you better be bringing something defensively."
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 23, 2021
Borrego’s comments come in the wake of yet another Lavar Ball tirade that his youngest son is unhappy about not starting for the Hornets this year. The basketball father claimed to be the mouthpiece of LaMelo in an interview with TMZ Sports.
But, even the 19-year-old fessed up to his poor play over the last few games.
“Last two games, I don’t think I’ve been doing real well,” Ball said. “I’m going to try to amp it up a little next game.”
Growing pains are expected from any rookie as they make the jump to the NBA. Despite playing in the talented NBL in New Zealand, Ball will still need to adjust to new teammates and a different style of play. With Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham handling the bulk of the backcourt duties, the Hornets should be content to let their young point guard develop in due time.
It’s clear that Ball has star potential, but that needs to be built through repetition. The rookie will get his first chance to improve when the Hornets play the Orlando Magic on Sunday.