Did the Hornets do enough for LaMelo Ball this offseason?
The Charlotte Hornets are working on building their roster both through the draft and free agency. They added some interesting pieces through the 2021 NBA Draft by bringing in a gifted scorer in James Bouknight and the uber-athletic Kai Jones. Both guys are ready to contribute to the young roster and are good young additions to their core. The Hornets also brought in LiAngelo Ball on their summer league roster, and thus far he looked to have a shot to make the roster.
However, free agents have not exactly flocked to Charlotte to help guide this young roster and veterans are essential for deep runs in the playoffs. They have not had any big-name All-Stars come through this organization. LaMelo Ball is the franchise player and he will need everyone’s help to earn this team a playoff spot. The Hornets may need to do a little more before the offseason ends to get LaMelo Ball the proper help.
When you struggle to attract big names in free agency, building a formidable young core is key for their success. Of course, the two guys mentioned above are expected to make the roster. Bouknight has shown in a couple of summer league games that he can grow into a lethal scorer over time and Jones is the perfect kind of athlete to pair with LaMelo Ball.
Even the Hornets’ second-round pick, JT Thor out of Auburn, looks like a nice project for the Hornets to work with. Thor is only 18 years old, so the sky is the limit for him. He will have plenty of room to grow in the near future. Even if he does not make the final roster, he is likely to make it to the G-League affiliate for the Hornets. Overall, the Hornets did well to add young pieces that can benefit LaMelo in the long run.
Over the past decade, this is an area that the Hornets have not been too successful in. However, they have been taking steps in the right direction over the past three offseason by signing Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, and now Kelly Oubre. Oubre might not be an All-Star caliber player, but he is expected to produce at a high level. His season in Golden State was average, but Oubre once averaged over 18 points per game back in Phoenix a few seasons ago.
The Hornets have also been in the running for Lauri Markkanen and he would be a major upgrade in their front-court if they could lock him in. Of course, Charlotte has not been able to nab one of the bigger names off the market, but they will make do with what they have. Sure, they should have been in the running for guys like Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and even Andre Drummond, but it is a process.
Will LaMelo Ball be happy with it?
Ultimately, LaMelo Ball should be happy with these moves after his first full season as a pro in the NBA. No, they did not add a triple-double machine like the Los Angeles Lakers did with Russell Westbrook and they could not get the oldest Ball brother to join this squad, but they added guys that can help out a young core.
Kelly Oubre is not expected to come in and drop 30 a night, but it is nice for LaMelo to have a guy that can capitalize in situations that he can set up. Also, Oubre has been in the league since 2015, so he has a good idea of fitting into an offense. Not to mention, Bouknight could be looked at as Ball’s running mate in the backcourt for years to come. It’s hard to speak for the reigning Rookie of the Year, but he should be satisfied with what has been added.
LaMelo is still young. Winning is important, but it takes a lot more than just talent to win games in any sports league. You need chemistry, the ability to stay healthy, and maybe even a little luck. The Hornets were sitting at the fourth seed before LaMelo hurt his wrist before the All-Star break. It is likely the Hornets would have made the postseason if Ball did not miss so much time, not to mention Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier missing time as well.
In that sense, adding guys to both wing positions was a smart move by Charlotte and they will look even better if they can get Markkanen as well. Either way, LaMelo should be pleased that the team is going after talented guys to pair with him and help his game grow.