LaMelo Ball's first few games of his rookie campaign left much to be desired, most notably his NBA debut where he went scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting.
Fast forward one week and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has quietened that noise, delivering his best game of the season in Charlotte's 118-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on the road.
Ball played a season-high 29 minutes off the bench, pouring in a career-high 22 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, but it was his confidence shooting the ball that jumped out as he connected on 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, letting it fly without hesitation - most of them coming in catch-and-shoot situations.
....and from range.
While his ability to push the pace in transition and create shots for his teammates has been evident early on, his navigation of pick-and-roll situations and playmaking in the half-court were areas of his offensive game which appeared to need more work, but the 19-year-old had plenty of encouraging moments against the Mavs, where he looked unbothered by the defence as he calmly dissected things at his own pace.
This drive to the hoop in the fourth quarter displaying his ability to not only get to the rim, but finish in style.
"LaMelos showing growth every single game," Hornets head coach James Borrego said postgame.
"Tonight, 30 minutes, 22 points, he had his fingerprints all over that game, nine rebounds, five assists, playing with poise and confidence, he was a calming force out there for us."
The 19-year-old entered the league with sky-high expectations that come with his last name and his performance against the Mavs earned him a place in the Hornets franchise record books.
Today marked the first time a Hornets rookie had recorded 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game since Kemba Walker did so in April 2012. It was also the first time since Kendall Gill in 1991 that a Hornets rookie recorded 20 points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench.
LaMelo Ball is starting to look comfortable.- StatMuse (@statmuse) December 31, 2020
He's the first Hornets rookie with a 20/5/5 game off the bench since Kendall Gill in 1991. pic.twitter.com/lP99ssKwUk
While it's only four games into the season, Ball's performance against the Mavs looked a lot like the player the Hornets envisioned when they selected him with the No.3 pick in the draft.
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