LaMelo Ball's 2022-2023 season was cut short due to a fractured ankle that he suffered at the end of February. Prior to his injury, Ball was averaging a career high in points at 23.3 per game and assists at 8.4 per game. He underwent surgery on March 1st and is currently rehabbing for next season. In today's article, we take a look at LaMelo's journey to the NBA and the skills that have set him apart from his competition.
Early Life and Background
Born on August 22, 2001, in Chino Hills, California, LaMelo Ball was exposed to sports at a very young age. His father, LaVar Ball, had a brief stint as a professional football player and says that he started training LaMelo "as soon as he could walk." Growing up with two older brothers, Lonzo and LiAngelo, LaMelo had work hard to keep pace.
The Journey Begins
From a young age, LaMelo displayed an innate passion for basketball. He started honing his skills under the guidance of his father, who believed in his potential and nurtured his talent. LaMelo's unique playing style and extraordinary court vision quickly set him apart from his peers, sparking curiosity and excitement in the basketball community.
Rising to Prominence
LaMelo Ball rose to prominence during his high school years at Chino Hills High School, where he became a vital part of their dominant basketball program. From day one, he was given the ball as a freshman, and he and his brothers led Chino Halls to a 35-0 record and a California state title in 2015-2016. He was named MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year, an award he split with Onyeka Okongwu, who was ironically his teammate. His incredible performances and highlight-reel plays caught the attention of scouts, analysts, and media outlets across the nation. Notable about LaMelo's succcess was that he only stood 5'10" as a freshman.
As a sophomore, LaMelo absolutely exploded, averaging 26 ppg and even scoring 92 points in a single game! Following that season, his parents pulled him from Chino Hills High School to home school him. He would essentially sit out his junior year and part of his senior year, before finishing high school at SPIRE Institute and Academy.
Professional Debut and Overseas Stint
In 2017, LaMelo made a bold move that raised eyebrows in the basketball world. Instead of pursuing the traditional path of playing college basketball, he chose to take his talents overseas. LaMelo joined the Lithuanian team Vytautas Prienai-Birštonas, where he gained invaluable experience and showcased his skills on an international stage.
By 2019, LaMelo had grown to 6'7". When he was 13 and in 8th grade, he stood only 5'5". While it's not unusual for kids to hit a growth spurt in their mid/late teens, it's pretty crazy that LaMelo grew by over a foot during that time period!
NBA Dreams Come True
After his overseas stint, LaMelo Ball's dream of playing in the NBA became a reality. In the 2020 NBA Draft, he was selected as the third overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets. The Golden State Warriors selected James Wiseman one spot ahead of ball, a decision that at this point, looks to be regrettable.
Playing Style and Unique Skills
LaMelo Ball possesses a playing style that is both electrifying and captivating to watch. Standing at 6 feet 7 inches (200.66 cm) tall, his height gives him an advantage in terms of court vision and versatility. With a lanky frame and impressive wingspan of 6'9" (206 cm), he can disrupt passing lanes and create turnovers on defense. Weighing only 181 pounds, however, he'll need to continue to get stronger to withstand the gauntlet of the NBA's 82 game schedule.
Court Vision and Passing Ability
One of LaMelo's standout qualities is his exceptional court vision. He possesses an uncanny ability to see the entire floor and make pinpoint passes to his teammates. His creativity and flair in distributing the ball have drawn comparisons to some of the greatest playmakers in NBA history.
Scoring Ability and Shooting Range
While known for his playmaking skills, LaMelo Ball also has a scoring prowess that should not be overlooked. He has a natural ability to score from all areas of the court, whether it be driving to the rim with finesse or knocking down shots from beyond the arc. His shooting range and shot selection have steadily improved, making him a threat from anywhere on the court. Before his injury, he was shooting a career best 83.6% from the free throw line.
Impact on the Charlotte Hornets
Since joining the Charlotte Hornets, LaMelo Ball has made an immediate impact on the team. His presence has rejuvenated the franchise and injected a sense of excitement among fans. His ability to control the tempo of the game, make his teammates better, and provide highlight-reel moments has made him a fan favorite. Here's to hoping he makes a complete recovery from ankle injury and returns better than ever in the fall of 2023.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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