LaMelo Ball exceeded expectations in his first season with the Hornets, but coach James Borrego still sees room for improvement, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Ball is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors and Borrego has called him the “engine” of Charlotte’s offense, but his first season was also marked by excessive turnovers and missed assignments on defense.
Bonnell notes that Ball didn’t have a full summer or a traditional training camp to adjust to the NBA. He still averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 51 games and may have been a runaway choice for the league’s top rookie if not for a broken wrist he suffered in March.
“This is all new and fresh for him,” Borrego said. “I thought he was making some significant steps before the injury. I thought he showed tremendous growth. Obviously, that was disrupted with the injury. The goal now — one of my top priorities this summer — is to really work with this kid … work on offense and defense. We’ve got to take some major steps, and it starts with his body, and then working through offense and defense.”
There’s more from Charlotte:
- Malik Monk‘s future with the team is uncertain as he heads toward free agency this summer, Bonnell states in the same story. The fourth-year guard is coming off his best scoring season, averaging 11.7 points per game, but he might not have a set role in a crowded Hornets backcourt. “If they want me here, I’d love to be here,” Monk said Wednesday in a session with the media, “but I want to feel wanted.”
- A sprained right foot sidelined Gordon Hayward for the final 25 games, but he doesn’t expect to need offseason surgery, Bonnell adds. Hayward told reporters that when the injury occurred in early April, he was given a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks. This Friday represents the seven-week mark.
- Cody Martin missed Tuesday’s play-in game with a sprained ankle and said he probably won’t be able to do any on-court work until next week, Bonnell tweets. That mean’s it’s unlikely that Martin would have been available for a first-round playoff series if the Hornets had advanced.