Hornets coach James Borrego with a brutal response to LaVar Ball
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Hornets coach James Borrego with a brutal response to LaVar Ball

Most draft analysts thought Charlotte was fortunate to get LaMelo Ball at no.3, as they had him projected no.1 in all their boards. The youngest Ball, according to them, has the most talent and highest upside by a mile. Despite a lot of skepticism, LaMelo seems to be proving them right. 

The young point made the Hornets a League Pass darling and started to put up serious numbers. Over a 7 game stretch, LaMelo had a 15.6/7.4/7.1 average, shooting 46 percent from the field. Despite that, Hornets coach James Borrego still has LaMelo coming in from the bench, and that didn’t sit well with his father, LaVar Ball. 

“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.”

LaVar Ball, TMZ

Dealing with LaVar is the biggest downside when scouting any of his sons. The Lakers had a huge sigh of relief when Lonzo left L.A. because that meant they didn’t have to deal with his father anymore. That’s why everyone wondered – how will the Hornets deal with LaVar? 

“If you’re turning the ball over five times in 16 minutes, that ain’t gonna cut it for me. 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. He’s got to get better, bottom line. He’s engaged; he wants to get better. He’s capable of handling it.”

James Borrego, The Charlotte Observer

I’d say the Hornets are handling it very well. LaVar can create a lot of smoke, but the best way to cut the crap out is to make it clear who’s the coach and what’s expected. The balancing act is not to put too much on LaMelo. He wasn’t the one speaking out, and given LaVar’s history, we shouldn’t assume he’s speaking for his son. 

That’s why I like Bareggo’s answer. He made it clear why LaMelo is not a starter but also praised his game and, more importantly, his effort. LaMelo has the talent, but many people were skeptical of his ability to play in a structured system. His Chino Hills, Lithuanian and Australian episodes were basically exhibition games for LaMelo. The kid never finished a full season with one team or had to follow structure – it was all about his individual game. 

All the info coming out of Charlotte is that LaMelo is all about basketball and keen on learning systems and responsibility. Coming from the Popovich coaching tree, there’s no doubt Borrego is proficient in that department. As much as you need to let rookies play through their mistakes, they also need to understand minutes need to be earned. 

The best thing LaVar can do is step aside and let his son’s game do the talking.