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The reason LaMelo Ball is like Luka Doncic and Russell Westbrook, per Hornets’ Gordon Hayward

Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Hornets

Charlotte Hornets swingman Gordon Hayward thinks rookie point guard LaMelo Ball’s ceiling is exceptionally high.

Hayward said during an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic that Ball’s command over the ball reminds him of Luka Doncic and Russell Westbrook:

“Yeah, I think LaMelo is going to be really good in this league for a lot of years,” Hayward said, via Amick. “He’s got great size. More than anything, he has great feel for the game. He’s kind of like — to me, he’s got that same type of feel as like (Dallas’) Luka (Doncic), as (Washington’s) Russ (Westbrook), where they just are around the ball and the ball kind of just comes to them. With rebounds and (being able) to make the right plays and always kind of being at that right position, to me he has that same type of feel and energy for the game. I think he’s gonna be really good.”

The youngest Ball brother was regarded by many as the top talent in the 2020 NBA Draft, but his questionable jumper and defensive deficiencies also made him a polarizing prospect.

However, LaMelo Ball has wasted little time in showcasing his tremendous playmaking abilities. The 19-year-old is averaging 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists through his first 14 games. He is also shooting 33.3 percent from deep on 4.7 attempts per game, a respectable clip considering Ball shot closer to 25 percent from the three-point line in the NBL.

But Ball’s intangibles are also shining through. He pushes the tempo and single-handedly starts breaks. Moreover, Ball has established an uncanny chemistry with Miles Bridges, often finding Bridges cutting the rim for easy buckets or alley-oops.

Ball’s playmaking has also allowed Hayward to focus more on scoring. The 30-year-old is averaging 22.2 points while shooting over 40 percent from deep.

Charlotte is still trying to find an identity, but Hayward believes the Hornets could have a cornerstone player in Ball.