Michael Jordan: LaMelo Ball ‘has exceeded our expectations’
Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball is generating a lot of buzz and accolades across the NBA, and deservedly so. However, one piece of praise concerning the budding star presumably carries significantly more weight to him than others.
Hornets owner Michael Jordan made it clear this week that the organization could not be more pleased with the talent and growth exhibited by Ball, selected by the team with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, during the first half of his first season.
”I think Melo has adjusted to the NBA game better than any of us ever thought this early in his career,” Jordan told The Associated Press in an email, via Yahoo. ”He has exceeded our expectations so far this season.”
Ball has been named NBA Rookie of the Month twice and leads all rookies in several statistical categories, including points (15.8), assists (6.3), rebounds (6) and steals (1.6) per game.
After coming off the bench for the Hornets’ first 20 games, head coach James Borrego put Ball in the staring lineup. The rookie has flourished with the added responsibility and workload, averaging 20.6 points, 6.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds in 15 games.
”Me being me, I’m never going to say putting me on the bench was something smart or good to do,” Ball said. ”It always feels like when I’m on the court I’m helping. … But I think one of the reasons is because we didn’t have no summer league, so he probably wanted to ease me into it.”
Of course, any discussion about LaMelo or his two basketball-playing brothers ultimately gravitates toward bringing up their father, the outspoken, opinionated and frequently outrageous LaVar Ball.
The elder Ball has made making completely outrageous and borderline asinine statements his own personal sports media cottage industry over the years, much to the arguable detriment to his sons’ potential career prospects.
So far, though, it appears LaVar Ball has been on his best behavior — or at least conspicuously quiet — as LeMelo eases himself into the NBA … save for one ludicrous storyline involving a potential one-on-one on-court matchup with none other than Jordan.
Speaking of MJ, he believes Ball needs to continue to improve, but the NBA legend is confident that the Hornets, 17-18 and currently sitting at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference, are on the right path overall.
“Our goal is to build a consistent winner and have free agents look at our program, just like Gordon (Hayward) did this offseason,” Jordan said. ”It’s not just about Melo. It’s about our group of young, talented players, our coaching staff and our entire Hornets organization. All of those factors, along with Charlotte being a great city, will make us become a destination.”