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LaVar Ball calls for LaMelo to start in Charlotte: 'My boys are not freaking role players'

Jack Baer
·5-min read

LaMelo Ball has been one of the most exciting rookies in the NBA this year. It took only 15 games for LaVar Ball to demand he see more playing time.

Basketball’s most outspoken father aired a number of grievances about LaMelo’s role off the bench in an interview with TMZ on Friday, calling for Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego to start his youngest son and reap the benefits. He also implied LaMelo himself is unhappy with the arrangement:

“Melo and all my boys are like this, man. You playing for somebody, you go ahead, you don’t sulk and you don’t do that, you just go ahead and go with that. My thing is he ain't happy with that, but he ain't go show that. If I train you to be the best and you’ve been starting all your life, here is what they don't get.

“My boys are not freaking role players. They’re superstars. Let them do what they do. But if your mentality ain’t like that, guess what, it’s hard to coach my boys and tap into the best, because you don’t have a killer mindset.”

Through 15 games in his NBA career, LaMelo Ball has both delivered on his considerable hype and shown he needs improvement.

Ball leads all NBA rookies in assists, rebounds and steals, is already the youngest player to ever post an NBA triple-double and has delivered highlights night after night. However, his shooting stats — 40.4% from the field, 32.4% from deep — aren’t exactly efficient, he remains turnover-prone and his defense has been sub-optimal.

The latter issues are in line with pre-draft concerns about Ball, and Hornets coach James Borrego said Saturday that the rookie has work to do if he wants to stay on the court.

From the Charlotte Observer:

“If you’re turning the ball over five times in 16 minutes, that ain’t gonna cut it for me,” Borrego. “If you’re doing that on the offensive end, you better be bringing something defensively.”

“He had a stretch where he played extremely well. We need to find that again,” Borrego said. “He’s got to get better, bottom line. He’s engaged, he wants to get better. He’s capable of handling it ... Last night, poor decision-making (with the ball), and I think that affected him on the defensive end.”

Those comments came after a loss to the Chicago Bulls in which Ball posted seven points on 3-of-7 shooting with two assists, one rebound and five turnovers.

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) brings the ball up court against the Chicago Bulls during an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
LaMelo Ball has flashed star potential, but also made mistakes. Like most top rookies. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Complicating Ball’s path to starter status is that the Hornets already have two starting guards in Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham that are nominally point guards. It’s hard to see the Hornets wanting those two and Ball regularly on the floor together — the trio has only played 56 minutes total together, per NBA stats — so Ball starting would likely mean a demotion for a player who was top two in scoring for the Hornets last season.

Even without a starting spot, Ball has averaged 24.6 minutes per game. His 369 total minutes ranks fourth-most among all rookies this year entering Saturday.

Some more LaVar Ball nonsense

In case you were wondering, LaVar Ball didn’t stop talking after discussing LaMelo’s minutes. Just for fun, here’s a quick sampling of what else he had to say to TMZ.

On his middle son LiAngelo Ball, currently bound for the G League bubble:

“Everything that they say my other two can’t do, [LiAngelo] can do. You put him in an NBA game, it’s a wrap, but if him with one of his brothers, he’s going to get 30, 40 points very easily, because he’s going to run that lane every single time. And the boy can shoot that 3-ball, so it’s not hard for him to score a lot of points, quick.”

On his eldest son Lonzo Ball’s approaching free agency, which he thinks could hit $100 million (one expert projects ... less than that):

“This is one of the best scenarios that I think can happen. Say you give Lonzo 100 and something million on his next contract, and he’s saying ‘You know what? Either the $100 million you give me or the 100 and something million you give me, give 10 of it to ‘Gelo. Ten of my money to ‘Gelo.’ Now you’re getting two for one for free.”

On his three sons playing for the same team, which he thinks would give the Miami Heat’s old “Big 3” a run for their money:

Put them all on the same team and see how they win. That’s going to be the killer. They can make the same decision, like D-Wade, LeBron and the boy from Toronto, I forget his name, the lefty. Chris Bosh! I lost my train of thought right there. What I’m saying is, when their contracts are over, who’s to say that all of the LeBron drama and everything that’s in LA is over with, and they’re losing, and my Ball boys decide — at the top of their game, four years, 26 years old, 25, Melo 23 — to say ‘You know what? Let’s all decide to go to LA.’ Who ain’t going to take them Ball boys?

That concludes our latest look at LaVar Ball’s analysis.

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