LaMelo Ball’s preseason was bookended by a pair of inefficient, even if flashy, performances.
In the first and last games, Ball was a combined 1-for-15 from the field, 0-for-7 from three and scored just four total points, all those coming in his opener. Each of those games featured jaw-dropping assists that displayed how he could impact a game even when struggling as a shooter.
The middle two contests, though, were Ball much closer to his best. Ball scored a combined 30 points and looked like a prospect more than worthy of being drafted No. 3 overall.
On Monday, James Borrego summed up Ball’s performance in the preseason, both the good and the bad.
“Well, in general, he’s played very well,” he said. “I mean, I think he’s understanding his teammates at a higher level. They’re understanding him. We’re going to learn a lot about each other as we go. Shot selection is something I’m talking to him about. He’s got to understand that. Time and score, he’s got to understand that at a higher level and, you know, it’s a different rhythm here. He’s got to understand if we need a good shot, this is what we need. He’s got to understand shot selection. He’s got to understand defensive coverages. He’s got to value both ends of the floor. Those are things I’ve seen, pretty consistently throughout camp.”
Considering he’s a rookie who did not have a typical off-season prior to joining the team and, like everyone else, has been part of an accelerated training camp, Borrego also was certain to make sure expectations for Ball did not get out of hand.
“He hasn’t been perfect, you know, but again, that’s not what I’m asking for,” he continued. “I’m asking for growth and I’m seeing growth out of him. He didn’t have his best game of the season last game against Orlando. He’s a rookie. He’s going to have some of these nights. He’s not going to be perfect. He’s not going to go, you know, 10-for-10 from the field every night with 10 assists. It’s just not going to happen.
“But what I’ll ask him is that he learns, he grows, he comes in the next day, he tries to get better. And to me this kid, he’s about that.”
Ball will start the season coming off the bench, a move that should help ease the pressure on him. As he grows more comfortable in his role and alongside his teammates, Ball should find more success in the league and level out his performances, avoiding the high highs and the low lows.
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