Michael Jordan admits even he didn't see this coming from LaMelo Ball

Jack Baer
·2 min read

Six months ago, LaMelo Ball was one of several intriguing candidates to go first overall in the 2020 NBA draft. He possessed elite size and passing ability for the point guard position, but came with plenty of question marks thanks to his unprecedented route to the draft.

Four months ago, Ball was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Hornets, who already had two starting-quality point guards on their roster. Two months ago, he failed to score in his NBA debut.

Through it all, Ball was seen as a player with quite possibly the highest ceiling in this year's rookie class. Still, no one could have predicted what happened next.

As the NBA enters the All-Star break, Ball isn't just the top player in this year's rookie class; he's one of the most exciting rookies in recent memory. He's made the previously moribund Hornets a legitimately fun team to watch. And he's managed to shatter the expectations of the NBA legend that drafted him.

Hornets owner Michael Jordan told the Associated Press that he simply didn't see all this coming from Ball:

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

Immediately after drafting Ball, Jordan was reported to be a "big fan" of the player, despite past statements from that player's dad.

Through his first 35 games, Ball is averaging 15.8 points, 6.3 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game despite coming off the bench in the majority of games. Each of those marks are best among NBA rookies this year, and he's also shooting 44.9% from the field and 37.8% from deep.

Even more surprisingly, Ball has been a quality defender as a 19-year-old. He leads the Hornets in defensive box plus/minus according to Basketball Reference, using his size and basketball IQ to pester offenses.

And he does stuff like this:

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Obviously, Ball still has plenty more growing to do before he can help make the Hornets an actual contender, but it's so far, so good for a player that many expected to take a while to even reach "good."

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