LaMelo Ball’s career in the NBA is less than two weeks old, but the Hornets rookie has already scored a victory.
Ball and Charlotte (2-2) beat Luka Doncic and the Mavericks (1-3) on Wednesday night, 118-99. Ball has enjoyed his best night as an NBA player so far, scoring a record 22 points with eight rebounds, five assists and 4 of 5 to 3 points. In the loss, Doncic scored just 12 points with five assists.
‘LaMelo shows growth with every game,’ James Borrego, Hornets coach told the media after the game. “He had his fingerprints all over that game… playing calm, confident. He was a calming force for us. “
Ball, the No.3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, has stepped off the bench for his first four NBA games. He entered Wednesday night averaging 6.3 points per game – he had made a few highlights, especially as a passer, but his impact had been fairly minimal.
That all changed against the Mavericks as Ball came out aggressively. He arrived at the line shortly after entering, then distributed a few passes before nailing a 3-point pointer to 30 feet. Then he grabbed an offensive rebound to hit a batsman at the end of the first quarter.
In the fourth quarter, with the game well out of reach, Ball hit a jumper in the right elbow, a 3 point left wing, then a reverse lay-up to make sure there was no would not return from the Mavs.
One of the biggest concerns regarding Ball’s entry into the NBA was his shooting. In the highlights above, it is evident that its mechanics are unconventional – there is a lot of leg movement. But against Dallas, that didn’t stop him from hitting four of his five attempts from beyond the arc.
Ball will always be a big story because of his family. His older brother Lonzo plays for the Pelicans, and their father LaVar has done a great deal for years on the quality of his sons. It remains to be seen whether Ball will overcome the various worries about his game over the course of a long career in the NBA.
During one night, however, Ball looked like the best player on the pitch.
“Melo is a great player,” Hornets forward Miles Bridges told the media after the game. “He’s the third choice for a reason.”