Remember LaMelo balls? The young point guard has stalled

Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams of the Boston Celtics defend the Charlotte Hornets' LaMelo Ball during the fourth inning of the game at TD Garden on February 10, 2023, in Boston.

Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams of the Boston Celtics defend the Charlotte Hornets’ LaMelo Ball during the fourth inning of the game at TD Garden on February 10, 2023, in Boston.
Image: beautiful pictures

Coming into season, you can see the Charlotte Hornets heading for a ravine. They lost their second best player to problems off the pitch, and LaMelo ball was really lame for the year. Well, the family wagon hit right on that cliff.

The third year point defense is the team’s best shot at a franchise building block forever, and his entire 2022 campaign is empty, if not completely. Ball has missed almost half of the games because of an ankle injury, and I’m not sure how much that will help even if he’s healthy.

The Hornets are the team to lose six games in a row and eight of their past 10 games, and also sit at 15-42, good for the third-worst record in the NBA. During his second stint as head coach at Queen City, Steve Clifford was a disaster. Shock, I know. Usually, if you bring in a coach, it’s because he’s been successful.

The team was on ESPN Friday night, and led the Boston Celtics by 20 points in the first half by a 127-116 loss. I bring this up because development can be done even in the absence of a crop, which is the opposite of what is happening in Charlotte.

LaMelo can still play in Lithuania

Basically, Ball was left to his own devices, with the worst lame duck trainers and no second banana. It’s no surprise that he went out on the field with 23, 8 and 6 as empty as possible, and didn’t really make much progress but just played more.

He is shooting long distance at a career-low 40% rate — not from three, from off the field — and half of his 20 shots are from deep. Other scoring options on the team are Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier, and between them and Ball, they make nearly 60 per game, scoring just over 40% of them. Additionally, none of the trio scored above 36 percent from the three, and they totaled 26 percent per game.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to play on that team, having to watch those three take turns laying tiles all night. It’s disgusting. The Hornets’ offensive ranking is last, they’re 24th in terms of scoring and not playing defensively.

Again, some bad luck… It’s really hard to go from 43 wins to 15, and hope is on Victor Wembanyama as he might be the best chance to keep the Ball. The situation is very important for young players, and whether it is Vic or someone else, they shouldn’t go to Ball running around the house with a tie on his head and hitting the kids with wooden spoons.

Talking about Big Vic

Charlotte fans are praying that the lottery balls will bounce because the front office is shameful. It’s either a massive Frenchman with transcendent talent, or another chance for Charlotte to manifest the worst instincts imaginable.

Mitch Kupchak passed Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels to Reggie Jackson and the second-round picks on the deadline. Jackson and Rozier are the same damn player, and everyone on the list to save Ball should have been there.

The group can, and has bottomed out. The NBA has been packed with buyers over the past week. Why keep PJ Washington or other scraps? See if you can pick or steal a young man from an impatient opponent.

In addition, fire Clifford – again. Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George starts doing the opposite of his first impulse and his life starts to change? Do that. (Unless they get 1st pick, they’ll definitely pick Wembanyama.) There’s no way the Hornets would be so ignorant.

LaMelo deserves better. North Carolina basketball fans – and basketball fans in general – deserve better. Those who grew up loving Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Alonzo Mourning deserve better.

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