LaMelo Ball on Playing for Michael Jordan, Hornets: 'Everything Lined Up for Real'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 20, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 13: LaMelo Ball #2 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on against the Dallas Mavericks during their game at Spectrum Center on October 13, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball said he's happy to have ended up in an organization led by NBA legend Michael Jordan.

Ball, the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, told Joe Vardon of The Athletic in an interview released Wednesday he refers to MJ, the team's governor, as "unc," and he believes the stars aligned perfectly for him to land in Charlotte.

"I feel like everything lines up," he said. "I feel like I came here for a reason, he's the owner for a reason, just everything lined up for real."

Ball put together a solid rookie season for the Hornets despite an unsettled role during the early stages of the 2020-21 season. He averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 threes and 1.6 steals across 51 appearances (31 starts).

The 20-year-old California native ranked fourth among NBA point guards in offensive Real Plus-Minus, but he struggled defensively, which dropped him to 27th overall at the position, per ESPN.

He'll once again play a key role for Charlotte this season alongside Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., Miles Bridges, PJ Washington and 2021 first-round pick James Bouknight.

Ball told Vardon he's got a "mentality" similar to players from Jordan's era, who more frequently tried to build within one organization and create longstanding rivalries with other top players rather than trying to join a super team to chase a championship.

"You supposed to just go to a team and build from there—I feel like that's how it should be," he said. "Especially when you like a high pick too, most likely going to a team that wasn't as good, so you try to make them better. I feel like that's the whole process right there."

The Hornets likely aren't quite ready to compete for a title at this stage, but they've put enough pieces together to at least start their climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Ball possesses tremendous offensive skill and could push toward an All-Star Game selection, but the type of progress he can make defensively will play a key role in exactly how much progress Charlotte makes this season.

The Hornets open the regular season Wednesday night when they host the Indiana Pacers.


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