A lot changed in the three years that Steve Clifford was away from the Hornets, but the most significant move has been the addition of LaMelo Ball, who appears destined for stardom after being selected with the third pick in the 2020 draft. In an interview with Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, Clifford talked about the opportunity to coach one of the league’s best young players.
“(With) player development, the misconception is they only get better when they are young,” he said. “The better players have a goal, have a plan for every summer to get better no matter how old they are. And that’s what he’s doing. He has his things in different areas that he’s been working on.
“But I think the biggest thing for him — and I think he would tell you the same thing — is team success. The best players ultimately in our league are always judged by how well their team does. And I know he’s motivated for us to be a playoff team, which would be a good step. And I think in talking with him, that seems to be his vision.”
Ball earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2021 and followed that up with his first All-Star appearance last season while averaging 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.6 assists. He has already impressed Clifford with his offseason work ethic.
“He’s been great. He’s been here almost the whole summer,” Clifford said. “He likes to be in the gym. He works hard both on the court and in the weight room. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him, and I think that he’s ready or in a good place to get off to a good start. I mean, I think he’s done all the right things this summer, and I’ve been really impressed with him.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- After Montrezl Harrell agreed to a contract with the Sixers, he tweeted a message of thanks for being able to spend time with the Hornets in his home state. Harrell is headed to his sixth NBA team a few months after Charlotte acquired him from the Wizards at the trade deadline. “Blessed to have played for my home state,” he wrote, “only was 20-25 games but being back in the NC state was a blessing!”
- Magic forward Franz Wagner is questionable for the EuroBasket quarterfinals after twisting his ankle in Germany’s win on Saturday, according to Eurohoops. Wagner didn’t return to the game after suffering the injury in the third quarter. There has been no official word on his status for Germany’s next game on Tuesday.
- In case you missed it, we looked at the over/under totals for the Southeast Division this week and examined the extension case for Heat guard Tyler Herro.