James Borrego says LaMelo Ball is ‘clearly’ Rookie of the Year

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Jacob Rude
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

LaMelo Ball’s return to the starting lineup on Saturday will not only serve as a boost for the Hornets in their playoff chase, it’ll also serve as a personal boost for Ball as he looks to put the closing touches on his Rookie of the Year season.

Ball looked to be running away with the award when he went down with his fractured wrist in mid-March. While the rest of the league had the opportunity to make up ground on Ball in the nearly six weeks he sat on the sidelines, no rookie seized the opportunity.

Now, Ball will have 10 games to re-establish himself as the front-runner for an award the head coach James Borrego already feels is his.

To me, I think he’s clearly the Rookie of the Year, and I think he’ll prove that over these next 10 games as well,” he said. “But I think he’s already done enough to get there. To me, right now, the focus is on winning games, and I think he’s locked into that.”

Historically, the Hornets have had two Rookie of the Year winners. In 1991-92, Larry Johnson earned the honors nearly unanimously over Dikembe Mutombo and Billy Owens. In the 2004-05 season, the inaugural year for the Charlotte Bobcats, Emeka Okafor took home Rookie of the Year honors, edging Ben Gordon and Dwight Howard.

This season, Ball’s stiffest competition comes from Tyrese Haliburton in Sacramento and Anthony Edwards in Minnesota. While both have had high points this season, neither likely did enough to overtake Ball.

While Borrego and the Hornets aren’t counting their chickens before they hatch, he spoke on what a Rookie of the Year award would mean for both Ball and the program.

“Well, I think if he deserves, and if any player deserves Rookie of the Year, it’s a boost for any program,” Borrego said. “LaMelo is deserving of that and I’m glad, and I’m thankful that he gets to continue that season in the stretch run. I think this is a wonderful time for him, as you said, for his development for one, but to help us make a playoff push here.

“LaMelo’s had a major impact on our winning this season. For a young guy to put up those numbers, but to do it with the sort of winning impact is significant for us,” he added. “I’m happy for him and I’m excited for him that he gets a chance to continue that season, not have it cut short and end the way it potentially could have. I’m thrilled for him. But for us as an organization, this is a wonderful time for Melo to be center stage of this thing.

“But more than anything, Melo wants this to be about the team and I love that about him – more than anything, it’s about this playoff push more than the Rookie of the Year and that’ll take care of itself.”

Related

LaMelo Ball officially available, returns to starting lineup for Hornets vs. Pistons

Miles Bridges says LaMelo Ball is providing Hornets energy while injured

LaMelo Ball named March's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month