LaMelo Ball could transform the Charlotte Hornets right before our eyes.
After being selected with the 3rd-overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night, it seems clear that Ball was arguably one of the best picks any franchise made last night.
Ball in Charlotte has the potential to be a match made in basketball heaven. The Hornets and the city of Charlotte are in desperate need of a new spark that will not only bring them relevance on the court but also in the culture.
Ball is a dynamic playmaker with the basketball in his hands, but his best attribute to Charlotte might be his persona. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you checked for anything coming out of Charlotte besides Bojangles?
The Panthers are OK in 2020, but there’s been no real excitement around them since their Super Bowl appearance during the 2015 season. The NBA franchise hasn’t made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2002.
Even one of Charlotte’s most prominent rappers, DaBaby, who took the music game by storm in 2019, has started to tail off in 2020 (then again, what hasn’t #2020).
This city needs a star.
The Hornets need a talent who can capture the attention of the entire nation. They need someone with that mischievous and boyish charm that can elevate the city’s profile not only in the sports world but also in pop culture. They needed someone with star quality.
They needed LaMelo Ball.
Outside of his unique flashiness on the court, Ball has been a Facebook reality series star, he owns a professional basketball team, and he’s arguably one of the most marketable rookies of the past 20 years.
He already has a deal with Puma that is reportedly worth $100 million that includes access to a private jet, and he has 5.7 million Instagram followers.
It’s no secret that he garners supreme public interest. If he is any good on the court, Hornets games will become a must-see show once the pandemic subsides. This will not only give Charlotte real buzz, but it will also help boost the local economy in a way that could be similar to the financial impact stars like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have had on the local economies of these small market cities.
From a basketball standpoint, it’s also a win-win situation for both Ball and the organization. Ball doesn’t have to carry the team right now, and he can learn behind guards like Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier while meshing into a young core that has the potential to play exciting basketball if they push the pace. This also gives owner Michael Jordan a chance to build around a key centerpiece after Kemba Walker was shipped to Boston in the summer of 2019.
Jordan has been heavily criticized in the past for selecting bad draft picks and giving out a lot of money to very average players. This will give arguably the greatest basketball player of all time the opportunity to prove to the world that he has the capabilities to be a good owner.
In Ball’s first season, I don’t expect much from the Chino Hills, Los Angeles product. Without an adequate preseason to prepare due to COVID-19, which won’t include a summer workout schedule or a chance to compete in NBA Summer League. I expect Ball to look extremely lost as most other rookies will be this season.
However, I also expect to see flashes of brilliance from him that can only come from a player with his level of skill and feel for the game. Our true measuring stick on Ball shouldn’t be this season, it should be in 2021-22 after hopefully having a full year and another summer to get adjusted to the NBA game.
If he reaches his potential, Ball can be a transformative talent and one of the best players to ever put on a Hornets jersey.
Right now, Ball is already the celebrity the city needed.
Hopefully, he can be the hooper they need too.