LaMelo Ball to Remain in Hornets' Starting Lineup, HC James Borrego Says

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIMarch 11, 2021

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) dribbles against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

LaMelo Ball's place in the Charlotte Hornets' starting lineup is looking much more secure these days.

Head coach James Borrego told reporters Wednesday the rookie point guard will remain as a starter for the time being but didn't note who would be lining up in the backcourt with him.

Rick Bonnell @rick_bonnell

Hornets coach James Borrego says definitively that LaMelo Ball will continue to start. Didn’t address who else would.

Terry Rozier (33 games) and Devonte' Graham (25 games) have started each contest they've suited up for this season with Rozier a slightly more productive scorer with 20.5 points and 3.2 assists per game compared to Graham's 13.7 points and 5.7 assists per game.

Ball has put together a tremendous rookie season with 15.8 points, 6.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds in 35 games with just 15 starts.

The Hornets (17-18) are currently fighting for a playoff spot and will start the second half of the season as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Charlotte might still be a roster in development, but Ball's ascent has sped that process along. Having him lead the team through a pressure-filled back half of the schedule will allow Borrego to assess just how far he can push the rookie this year.

So far, Ball hasn't balked.

What that means for someone like Rozier remains unclear.

The guard is too productive to bench but could prove a valuable trade chip as the March 25 deadline nears.

Rozier has one year remaining on a three-year, $56.7 million deal and will earn $17.9 million in 2021-22—a reasonable ask for a starter or a potential sixth man on a contender.

The trade market should begin to materialize in the coming days as contenders begin to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. The Hornets are fighting to at least remain in that group as long as possible. Starting Ball will give the club the best chance to do so.