Michael Jordan: LaMelo Ball has ‘exceeded our expectations’

Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

I rated LaMelo Ball No. 1 in on my 2020 NBA draft board. I wrote the Hornets getting him with the No. 3 pick significantly swung their long-term outlook. I considered Ball – one of the NBA’s youngest players – a near-favorite to win Rookie of the Year entering the season.

And I still underrated Ball.

Which is yet another thing I have in common with Michael Jordan.

“I think Melo has adjusted to the NBA game better than any of us ever thought this early in his career,” the Hornets owner told the Associated Press in an email. “He has exceeded our expectations so far this season.”

That’s a nice compliment for Ball – both from his boss and the greatest player of all time.

Ball’s strengths are more substantial and his weaknesses are less severe than anticipated.

His ball-handling and passing are as special as hoped. His shot selection is totally fine rather than horrendous. His defense is regularly bad rather than a train wreck. He must still prove his shooting over a larger sample, but the early returns (38% on 3-pointers, 80% on free throws) are beyond encouraging. He’s also fitting well with his teammates.

Ball is the rare teenage point guard who isn’t just promising, but already actually good.

Imagine how good he’ll be as he ascends through his 20s.