Reality or Fiction: What should we expect from Charlotte Hornets’ goalie LaMelo Ball in Year Two? | France

The Charlotte Hornets found the cornerstone of their franchise when LaMelo Ball fell to their knees with the No.3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Any uncertainty over the phenomenon’s capabilities was lifted in his debut NBA season, where Ball averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game en route to win. the title of rookie of the year. He helped lead the Hornets to the Play-In tournament in year one, but with a more talented team around him in year two, expectations are slightly higher than before.

Ahead of what should be another solid season to kick off Ball’s career, our team members are playing a game of “Fact or Fiction” to discuss the 20-year-old’s cap for his second season.

LaMelo Ball to lead Charlotte Hornets to playoffs

[NBA Getty Images]

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Made. While the Eastern Conference didn’t get any easier during the offseason, the Hornets have improved nonetheless. With the return of Gordon Hayward, additions such as Kelly Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee and a pair of quality rookies in James Bouknight and Kai Jones, and other established players on the improving roster like Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and PJ Washington, I think Charlotte is going to be a dormant team in the East. With all that talent surrounding a ball-caliber playmaker, I think the reigning Rookie of the Year will raise his team to the playoffs, even if it’s by winning the Play-In tournament.

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Made. The Hornets made the Play-In tournament last season despite some major injuries and with everyone healthy I think they are a way to break through in the East.

Yash Matange (@ yashmatange2694): Fiction. I mean yes to see Ball in the playoffs, but unless one of the nine teams that finished above them last season has a dismal campaign this time around and falls off the charts, I don’t. do not see. Two teams that finished below them – the Toronto Raptors and the Chicago Bulls – look a lot better than they were last season and will be vying for at least the last places in the Play tournament. In.

Gilbert McGregor (@ GMcGregor21): Made. I’m really high on the Hornets for this season. Without the injuries, the team would have been a playoff team in 2020 and could have made some noise. Starting with Ball I expect all of the returning key players to have added to their games and by bringing in players like Oubre, Plumlee, Bouknight, Jones and Ish Smith, the second unit is ready to step up in case where key starters would miss an overtime. time. It should help them stay in the playoff image.

LaMelo Ball will once again be the best player in his draft class in Year 2

[NBA Getty Images]

Irving: Done. The NBA Draft 2020 class ended up being a lot deeper than most people anticipated, with Ball, Anthony Edwards, and Tyrese Haliburton all looking like certified franchise cornerstones. Edwards and Ball were neck and neck for Rookie of the Year last season, and I think Edwards will consolidate himself as one of the top 10 young players in the NBA this season, but I still think Ball will have the on it by leading his team to a better overall record and a potential playoff bid. I expect Edwards and Haliburton to both take a step forward this year, but I don’t think those steps will be bigger than Ball’s leap.

Kidane: Done. Haliburton and Edwards have made the race for Rookie of the Year much closer than many had anticipated and although they will both take on more responsibility for their teams in Year 2, Ball is the man in Charlotte and will have more opportunities to shine with the ball in his hands over a team competing for a playoff spot.

Matange: Done. There aren’t two ways to find out how talented Edwards and Haliburton are, which could see them become cornerstones of their respective franchises, but Ball’s skills are more versatile and will be lethal for longer periods of time. his career.

McGregor: Made. By the third year, I might have a different answer, but I think LaMelo is in an ideal position to show his strengths while Edwards is still a year away from fully developing into what he is. is going to become, which is a dominant force in this league. There’s a reason Ball beat his peers for Rookie of the Year honors.

LaMelo Ball to lead the league in assists

(NBA Getty Images)

Irving: I am going to go fiction on this one, but I don’t think it’s that far-fetched.

Ball averaged over six assists per game as a rookie, joining Stephon Marbury as the only teenager to ever achieve that feat in his first NBA season. As a full-time sophomore starter and with Graham de Devonte no longer on the roster, I think Ball will hit his high enough average where he could be in the conversation to lead the league. The two previous assist champions playing on the same roster are helping his case, as LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will likely cannibalize each other’s assist averages. But he will still face playmakers like Trae Young, Chris Paul, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic.

Ball will lead the league in assists at some point in his career, I just don’t think that’s happening this season.

Kidane: Fiction …But I want to be wrong.

The Hornets were 18th on pace last season and with LaMelo driving since the jump, expect them to be even more active this season, creating plenty of quick break opportunities with Miles Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. and co. .

Melo is already one of the best transition pointers, but to lead the league in assists he will need to make a leap as a half-court creator, something he already showed from last season’s flashes. I think he can add 2-3 assists per game this season and finish in the top 5, but as Kyle noted, there’s a ton of competition for the top spot.

Matange: Fiction. Ball will certainly be a regular at the highlights with his flashy dimes, but I think leading the league in assists is a bit too much. With Russell Westbrook and LeBron James – the assists leaders of the previous four seasons – on the same squad, there could be a new assists champion for the 2021-22 season, but I see that player is either Young or Doncic.

McGregor: Made. I mean, why not? Last year’s assists champion Russell Westbrook will now share the playmaking duties with a guy named LeBron James, which means the title claim is wide open to me. Ball averaged 6.1 assists last season while experiencing the NBA game. Having a year of experience under your belt is good for at least two more cents per game – maybe even three. It will be an interesting race, but LaMelo has as much of a chance as anyone else.

LaMelo Ball will be an All-Star

(NBAE / Getty Images)

Irving: Made. If you couldn’t tell already, I am very High on Ball in Year 2. Cracking the All-Star squad technically means you’re one of the top 24 players in the NBA, with a few players going missing due to injury. He’ll have to beat the vast majority of players like James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, Jaylen Brown, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Kyle Lowry and Jrue Holiday, but I don’t think that’s impossible.

If he improves on his averages from last season and the Hornets are central to the playoff image at the time of the All-Star polls, he will surely be the player to receive votes on his team. Add to that that he has the power to attract fan votes and I think Ball already has a legitimate shot at being an All-Star.

Kidane: Done. Last season we saw Zion Williamson make the All-Star Game in Year 2 and while Ball doesn’t have the same jaw-dropping numbers his impact on his team is up to par.

If the Hornets roll for the first two months of the season, Ball, like Zion, is a star of the social media generation and could see his name at the top of the ballots.

Matange: Fiction. I think the reigning Rookie of the Year will take a leap forward in his sophomore year, which will put him in the running for guard positions on the All-Star squad. However, Kyle has shared the roster and I don’t see him beating them unless injuries play the spoiler.

McGregor: Big done. The East is rich in guards, but I think the key ingredient for LaMelo to win an All-Star nod is to win, just like Kyle said. A jump to an average of something like 18 points and eight assists for a Hornets team that looks like a consolidated playoff squad should be enough for Ball to speak in Cleveland when the 2022 All-Star Weekend rolls around.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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