The 2022-2023 G-League season is a make or break year for LiAngelo Ball. The middle Ball brother has constantly faded in the background by way of his brothers, and has waited for his shot. This year is that year. I believe the Charlotte Hornets organization would like to find out just what it has with LiAngelo.
If the plan is to extend LaMelo Ball and give him a rookie max extension, that comes with perks. Those perks would certainly include leveraging ones power to provide a roster spot for their brother. Insert LiAngelo. This does not, and will not happen without LiAngelo proving on his own he is at the very least capable of warranting it though.
Therefore, it is imperative LiAngelo instills just enough confidence in the organization by having a respectable second season with the Greensboro Swarm.
I’ll provide a breakdown of how I see LiAngelo’s season shaping out and my predictions for his upcoming statistics.
Points Per Game
I’ll be honest here. This is the category Hornets scouts will be focusing hardest on. LiAngelo, from the day a basketball was put in his hands has been a scorer. He averaged almost 35 points per game in high school. His lone season with the JBA League, he averaged over 45 points per game, and recently dropped 52 points in a Drew League game. None of this matters in the NBA, but it does provide context as to who LiAngelo is.
Last year with the Swarm, LiAngelo’s scoring numbers were quite pedestrian at 4.6 PPG. To be fair, he played a grand total of 13.2 minutes per game, which is barely enough time to break a decent sweat. When you look at his numbers per 36 minutes, those number leap to 12.5 PPG.
Now, what I found interesting was the 8 games LiAngelo played in the G-League Showcase Cup. The G-League Showcase is essentially the first 12 games of the season and qualifying teams play in a 8-team tournament in December.
To start the season, LiAngelo came out hot with a 22-point performance shooting 9-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3. For reasons I cannot explain, his minutes decreased dramatically from that point on, and was actually benched for four straight games during that stretch. Just in those 8 games (he was recorded for a game he played zero minutes and three minutes as well), LiAngelo averaged 9.1 points, shot 62.2% from the field, and 53.6% from 3.
If you adjust these numbers per 36 minutes, his scoring average soars to 23.5 PPG.
This breakdown is different from LaMelo’s due to the uncertainty of how LiAngelo will be used. It largely boils down to minutes. If LiAngelo gets considerable playing time, I believe we will see an increase in production, largely from the scoring side.
Prediction – 21.6 MPG, 14.7 PPG
Defense, Rebounding, and Assists
As previously stated, predicting LiAngelo’s stats are contingent on how much he plays. With that said, his rebounding, assists, and defensive statistics leave much to be desired despite the lack of minutes played.
Starting with the defensive numbers, these aren’t too bad overall, especially if you adjust them per 36 minutes. With the Swarm last season, LiAngelo averaged 0.3 steals and 0.1 blocks respectively. Per 36 minutes, that adjusts to 1.2 and 0.3. Nothing to write home about, but respectable nonetheless.
However, his rebounding and assists numbers are pathetic. He averaged 1.1 rebounds and 0.3 assists last season, and at least one of those categories must change — quickly. For any NBA team to consider LiAngelo for a roster spot, it is incumbent upon him to improve his rebounding numbers. At his size, he has to show he can be dependent on assisting his team in this area. One rebound per game, even in limited minutes will not inspire, and that’s a keyword for LiAngelo this season.
Prediction – 0.8 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.8 APG
Here’s the bottom line with LiAngelo. NBA teams need scoring, and defenders. If you can do both, great. For LiAngelo, he has to prove he can excel primarily as a scorer, and defend at a high enough level to get a call-up with Hornets.