The Charlotte Hornets’ 2022-23 season met its doom before it even formally began. Not only did they lose last season’s leading scorer Miles Bridges due to controversy, they also lost franchise cornerstone LaMelo Ball to an ankle injury to begin the campaign, putting a huge damper on what had been a gradual ascent for Michael Jordan’s franchise. Now, a team that finished with 43 wins last year has just won 17 games at the 60-game mark during the All-Star break.
Nevertheless, Ball’s strong play as of late means that the Hornets, as much of a disaster their current season has been, still have a bright future. In recent games, the 21-year old one-time All-Star has played incredibly well, including a triple-double effort against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
Following a torrid stretch of games, LaMelo Ball has now bumped up his averages on the year to 23.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.4 dimes on 40.8 percent from the field and 36.5 from deep (3.9 three-point makes a night on 10.6 attempts – a huge volume).
To put in perspective how well Ball has been playing, he is only one of three players averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists per game with at least three triples a night this season. In the process, Ball joins Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and new Dallas Mavericks point guard Kyrie Irving in elite company.
Still, LaMelo Ball may have been playing exceptional basketball, racking up eye-popping stats that puts him among the best at his position, but it evidently has not translated to the win column for the Hornets.
Unlike other rebuilding teams, however, Ball is a legitimate franchise cornerstone for the Hornets to build around. His blend of elite court vision and ability to make difficult shots, particularly from deep, makes him a suitable fit for today’s three-point driven NBA. With that said, Ball must polish his shooting efficiency (he is posting a career worst 53.6 True Shooting percentage) for him to make the next leap to superstardom.
Anyhow, Hornets fans must exercise patience. The Warriors did not build a contending team around Steph Curry overnight, and it also took a while for the Cleveland Cavaliers to start winning with Kyrie Irving. All the losing at the moment may sting, but better days are surely ahead with LaMelo Ball leading the way.