It has been two full (well almost) seasons of observing third-year player, LaMelo Ball. I won’t waste time, nor pull any punches with my thoughts for year three.
With a very limited training camp, and a shortened COVID season to boot, I had seen enough in a handful of games to don LaMelo as the NBA’s next big thing in the 2020 season.
He’s a prodigy. He’s a star. He’s a Rembrandt. Whatever adjective that is synonymous with greatness, he’s inching towards that with each dribble as an NBA player.
Great things come in three’s, and in year three, I’m expecting an MVP-caliber year for LaMelo. Why? Here’s a few reasons:
Grown Man Status, Grown Man Expectations
When you’re a child, you think and act as a child, but when you’re a man, you put away childish things. Biblical nonetheless, but apropos for this case. LaMelo just turned 21. He’s a legal, grown man now. His body is continuing to grow and his mindset is evolving from simply being happy to be in the NBA, to now, expected to be great and lead a team to championships.
This won’t happen by just being a good player. Since an adolescent, his father, LaVar, has instilled a winning mindset. To be a superstar, one has to be judged by wins and losses. To date, the Hornets have failed to make the playoffs the first two years of LaMelo’s young career. In year three, it’s time this changes.
In LaMelo’s rookie year, James Borrego appeared hesitant to allow LaMelo to take the keys and drive the franchise how it should go. That reluctance oftentimes caused tensions among fans who did not understand certain coaching decisions made.
Newly named head coach, Steve Clifford is no stranger to this organization. In his second stint, he is looking to return the organization that gave him his first head coaching job to the playoffs. Doing so, he must hand the offense and team completely over to LaMelo, period. As a veteran head coach, and one who had a star in Kemba Walker, Clifford understands what needs to be done.
I fully expect LaMelo to be the driving force for the Hornets this season, and allow him to take them to the promise land on his shoulders.
Reports surfaced that LaMelo is in line for a rookie max extension worth north of $200 million after this season. Truth be told, in order for LaMelo to not receive this, he’d likely have to completely stink up the joint this year. However, it behooves LaMelo to give the Hornets any reason not to extend him, thus force the hands of Michael Jordan and Mitch Kupchak to open the proverbial check book, and give LaMelo the bag.
In conclusion, LaMelo has a lot riding on this season. Clifford appears pleased with the offseason work by LaMelo, and is encouraged by his availability inside the facility this summer. I see big things for LaMelo individually. If he can somehow combine that with facilitating a Hornets playoff run, the MVP conversation will not be beyond the pale.