There Is No Denying That LaMelo Ball Is Currently Living Up To His Hype And Then Some
Through the first 25ish games there have been a lot of surprises when it comes to this year's rookie class. For example, Anthony Edwards is already one of the best isolation scorers in the entire NBA (95th percentile), Tyrese Haliburton is making a fool of a ton of GMs for passing on him and is putting up a serious case for ROY, Payton Pritchard is one of the biggest steals of the draft, Desmond Bane LEADS THE NBA in 3P% on good volume, Immanuel Quickley is becoming a star for the Knicks, the list goes on and on.
Some of these guys were hyped up heading into their draft, but to me nobody was more hyped up than LaMelo Ball. Part of that was his Dad, part of it was his unique journey to the NBA, but we can say one thing for certain. Up until this point of the season, LaMelo is backing up that hype and then some. Just look at what he did last night
I'm not sure there was any rookie in this class that was facing more pressure heading into the season. Because of shit he can't control, you got the sense that there were people out there waiting for him to be a bust. That he would get exposed at this level. When you think of everything that went into him making the NBA, it's pretty crazy how things have turned out.
His overall numbers are pretty good: 14.2/5.9/6.2 on 43/36% splits with 1.8 3PM. His turnovers are a little high at 2.5, but that'll go down over time. The explosion has come recently with LaMelo being moved into the starting lineup, where we've seen him go for 22.6/6.0/6.6 on 43/51% shooting. That's legit as hell for a 19 year old
Remember how much the internet cummed themselves over Zion putting up 22/6/2 in his rookie season? Not only is LaMelo doing just that, but his team is actually winning……kind of. The Hornets are a 6 seed! Nobody and I mean nobody thought they were going to be competitive like they are. While part of that is the fact that Gordon Hayward looks better than even his Jazz days, the other part is the fact that LaMelo has stepped right in this season and delivered.
I think we can all agree that there's now no reason LaMelo should be taken out of the starting lineup, especially for Devonte Graham who has been pretty terrible this season. It's not just LaMelo's playmaking that warrants him starting, but his shooting is way better than I think we all thought heading into this season. Is his form perfect? No, but he's still able to get shots off, which was a question given his slow release.
What I find interesting is that it took pretty much no time for LaMelo to look like he belongs in the league. While he didn't go to college, it does look like his time in the Australian league where he played against pros has helped his transition. I wonder if we'll see the same thing happen to this new crop of high lottery rookies that will be entering the league next year from the G League. So far, a player like LaMelo's unorthodox path is paying off, which tells me that if you are truly good enough you can make it in the NBA without going down the traditional path.
Is it wild to say LaMelo is already the best Ball brother? It's early, but that's how it feels. He's already as good a natural passer as Lonzo while being a much better shooter. I wouldn't say he's quite there as a defender yet, but he does have a 109 Drtg which isn't terrible and is averaging over 1.0 steals a game already. The potential is definitely there for him to be solid on that end as well.
The Hornets were already a must watch League Pass team for a lot of people heading into the year, and that was before we knew just how good LaMelo was going to be. Now that he's showing no problems living up to the ridiculous amount of hype that surrounds him, you can't help but tip your cap. Remember, this version is basically the worst he's going to be. That's pretty scary.