After being out for a month with a broken hand, LaMelo Ball returned to the Charlotte Hornets starting lineup last night. It went pretty well: He had 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and the Hornets beat the Pistons, 107-94.
It’s those eight assists I’m interested in. Before Ball went down in March—an injury that was expected to be season-ending, but was not—plenty of observers were enthralled by LaMelo Ball’s passing. Sports Illustrated called the Hornets “the NBA’s most selfless team,” citing Ball as the key factor. He has an assist rate of 32 percent, in the top five percent of the league. “Name the pass, LaMelo Ball can throw it,” USA Today’s Jeff Zilgitt wrote, comparing him to Magic Johnson. His lone assist moment on NBA Top Shot goes for a minimum of $1,774.00. (It’s not even really an assist! Gordon Hayward takes a dribble and slides off a screen before hitting a three.)
So Ball is a good passer. How’d he do in his first game back? Here is a pass he threw in the first quarter.
Whew! Can we get another angle on that?
Okay, I guess I understand the Magic Johnson comparisons. A website on USA Today called “Lonzo Wire” said that LaMelo Ball’s return makes “the Charlotte Hornets fun again.” The Hornets had 23 fast-break points last night, which teammates credited to Ball’s return.
“You know if you’re running and you’re open, you’re going to get the ball,” said Miles Bridges, who had 27 points. “There’s a different type of energy when you know there’s always someone looking up.”