LaMelo Ball has made several highlight passes during his first NBA season, but turnovers are cutting into his playing time, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets guard has seen his minutes scaled back in the last two games, and coach James Borrego says ball security is the reason.
“If you’re turning the ball over five times in 16 minutes, that ain’t gonna cut it for me,” Borrego said of Ball’s performance in Friday’s loss to the Bulls. “If you’re doing that on the offensive end, you better be bringing something defensively.”
The third player picked in last year’s draft, Ball has experienced an uneven start to his NBA career. He became the youngest player ever to record a triple-double, but he’s shooting just 40.4% from the floor though his first 15 games. Despite the frustrations, his coach plans to be patient.
“He had a stretch where he played extremely well. We need to find that again,” Borrego said. “He’s got to get better, bottom line. He’s engaged, he wants to get better. He’s capable of handling it.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Clint Capela has transformed the Hawks‘ defense, notes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. An injury prevented Capela from playing after he was acquired at last year’s trade deadline, but his presence in the middle has helped Atlanta improve from 27th to eighth in the league in defensive efficiency. He posted his first triple-double Friday night, which included 10 blocked shots. “I just feel like last year was not really defense,” Capela said. “It was just going and scoring. I just feel now that you have a guy under the rim to challenge every shot or change shots from the opposite team, it just changes everything. It makes a difference.”
- The condensed schedule is limiting practice time for all NBA teams and it’s especially difficult for the Hawks, who have nine new players on their roster, observes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta hasn’t practiced since January 13, and that happened only because a game against the Suns was postponed. “We’re all adjusting,” coach Lloyd Pierce said. “I’ve never done this in the NBA, fly to a city and go straight to the gym, and so it does give us some getting used to the arena floor because we won’t have a shootaround (the next day), so it is a different norm and we use it as our way to break the ice a little bit, get some rhythm, and then we have a ton of rest heading into tomorrow’s game.”
- Salary cap concerns will provide incentive for the Magic to trade Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon before this year’s deadline, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic.