LaMelo Ball lands with Hornets as third overall pick of NBA draft

LaMelo Ball will begin his NBA career with the Charlotte Hornets. And the pick is apparently Michael Jordan-approved.

The Hornets selected Ball with the third overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft on Wednesday, landing the point guard on a team that remains in a rebuilding phase.

Hornets get top talent in LaMelo Ball

FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney.  LaMelo Ball's bone bruise on his left foot is expected to keep him out of the Illawarra Hawks lineup for the remainder of the National Basketball League season in Australia. The 18-year-old American, who joined Illawarra as part of the NBL's Next Stars program, is expected to be a first-round pick in this year's NBA draft.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
LaMelo Ball is headed to Charlotte. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

A lengthy guard at 6-foot-8, Ball possesses elite court vision and basketball IQ and could very well be the most talented player in this draft. Similar to his older brother, Lonzo, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, questions remain about Ball’s jump shot and physicality.

The two brothers are the first pair of siblings taken in the top five of the NBA draft, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Their middle brother, LiAngelo Ball, went unselected in the 2018 draft.

A bigger question is Ball’s fit with the Hornets, where Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier fill the team’s depth chart at point guard. However, after going 23-42 last season, it’s hard to blame the Hornets for going with the apparent best player available and working it out form there.

Jordan, the majority owner of the Hornets, reportedly gave the selection of Ball a “stamp of approval” ahead of the draft and was described as a “big fan” of the player by The New York Times’ Marc Stein.

LaMelo Ball’s path to NBA was quite unusual

You don’t see many paths to the NBA that are odder than Ball’s. A top prospect at Chino Hills High School in the Los Angeles area, Ball was pulled out of the school after an apparent clash between his father LaVar and the team’s new coach.

Ball soon signed with an agent and started playing professionally in Lithuania, then in his father’s upstart Junior Basketball Association. He eventually landed back in high school at the Spire Academy in Ohio, where he predictably faced amateurism concerns after playing as a professional.

Despite those concerns, Ball insisted he still wanted to play in college. A brewing eligibility fight put a stop to those plans, and Ball soon headed overseas to play in Australia for the Illawarra Hawks. That stint ended after only 12 games due to a foot injury, and preparations from the draft were underway from there.

LaVar Ball doesn’t get his wish

Even though he was seen smiling and shaking hands with his son after the pick, it appears LaVar Ball did not get what he was hoping for with this draft. The would-be sneaker magnate said before the draft that he wanted LaMelo to land with either the New York Knicks or Detroit Pistons, who respectively held the seventh and eighth selections.

Now, Ball will watch his son play under Jordan, and many will remember his boast that he could beat the Hall of Famer in a game of 1-on-1. For all we know, this pick is just the first part of Jordan’s plan to make Ball eat his words.

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