The Floor and Ceiling For LaMelo Ball

The Floor and Ceiling For LaMelo Ball

by March 9, 2021 1 comment

Over the first half of the NBA season, LaMelo Ball has been one of the most polarizing players in the league, and a frontrunner (if not the outright leader) for Rookie of the Year. His season thus far, and especially his averages of 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in his last 10 games have certainly raised the Hornets’ ceiling and injected them with potential. The team currently sits at 17-18. That’s good for 7th in the Eastern Conference and only one win away from the 5th spot, which means they have generally exceeded expectations. So, what are the best and worst-case scenarios for the Hornets’ guard?

The Floor

Ultimately, while Ball is certainly responsible for most of his success, several other factors have contributed to the recent surge in performance. For starters, Ball has benefitted from not only his health and lack of injuries, but the health (or lack thereof) of his backcourt mates, allowing for more playoff time and touches. Fellow point guard Devonte’ Graham, who was often starting over Ball at the beginning of the season, has been sidelined for the last seven games with a knee injury. When the other point guard that usually gets considerable minutes isn’t playing, it usually results in more playing time for you.

However, Graham’s return could be bad for Ball. Graham had suffered from diminishing play in his last 3 games–11, 8, and 5 points–but a healthy Graham traditionally gets around 35-40 minutes a game, which makes the Hornets’ backcourt that much more crowded. A three-guard starting lineup has also proved ineffectual, as their offensive performance was not nearly enough to offset their defensive shortcomings. Less significantly, F Gordon Hayward and C Cody Zeller have also missed time recently. Their return could also result in less opportunity for Ball. Of course, there is also the chance that LaMelo himself gets injured, which would obviously hurt his floor.

The Ceiling

The best-case scenario for Ball is that all of the things that happen in the “floor” scenario don’t have nearly as bad of an effect on him–or benefits him. For example, Graham could never be fully healthy, or never gets back the minutes that now belong to LaMelo. With the recent play (with the exception of his 7-point outing against the Kings) of the other guard in the backcourt triumvirate for Charlotte, Terry Rozier, Graham may see a reduced role in the games, which would benefit both Rozier and Ball.

This is all assuming neither of the two other guards gets traded, which would entirely change the situation. It doesn’t appear that the Hornets are targeting anyone, nor that their recent G-League callups will get much playing time. So, it appears that Ball’s situation will remain there. Hopefully, as Ball rests and recovers during the All-Star break, he will come back ready to take the Hornets to the playoffs with similar statistics as he has had recently, and cement his place as the Rookie of the Year.

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