LaMelo Ball is entering his sophomore season in the NBA. Following a terrific first campaign in the league, the 20-year-old is ready to take the next step and lead the Charlotte Hornets to the playoff for the first time since 2016.
The youngest Ball brother is not afraid of the challenge, and he's ready to give everything to surpass what the Hornets did last season, reaching the play-in tournament before getting kicked out by the Indiana Pacers.
Now Melo is ready to take this team to the big party helped by veterans like Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier. Something good for the Hornets is that the point guard isn't planning on leaving soon, as he wants to emulate what players from the past did.
Talking with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Melo compared his mindset to the 80s and 90s, where players stayed with a single franchise during their entire careers. He mentioned his boss, Michael Jordan, putting him as an example.
Ball said he calls Jordan “unc,” as in, “uncle.” It’s not the first time Ball has mentioned this in public, but during our conversation he added: “I feel like everything lines up. I feel like I came here for a reason, he’s the owner for a reason, just everything lined up for real.”
Ball also compared his mindset as a player to those who took the court during Jordan’s dominance in the 80s and 90s as we discussed his accelerated return from a broken wrist. He could have been out of action until the summer, but with the Hornets’ postseason chances fading, he was back from the injury in just five weeks.
“I feel like I still kind of got that mentality that they had back in the day,” Ball said. “Even with the switching teams and stuff, they never used to do that. You go to one team, you stay there.”
Melo is one of the future faces of the league. He landed in Charlotte perceived in a certain way and made sure to shut that down. Now he's a fan-favorite at the Spectrum Center, has shown he's very mature for his age and things point out he's willing to create something good with the Hornets.
After winning the 2021 Rookie of the Year, it's time to take that next step. LaMelo can do a lot of great things and the Hornets hope to see him displaying his quality this year, perhaps taking them to the postseason.