Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is impressed by third-year guard LaMelo Ball. On Friday, Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer caught up with the veteran basketball coach to discuss expectations.
“Asked Steve Clifford who’s impressed him most so far,” said Boone. “He said it was hard to single out one person but mentioned LaMelo first and how he’s a sponge, stays in the gym and loves to talk basketball.”
“Then, Clifford really raved about Nick Richards. He could have a role this season.”
Following the Hornets’ 132-103 play-in tournament loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the front office fired head coach James Borrego. On June 24, the Hornets re-hired Clifford.
Per multiple NBA betting sites, expectations are low for Charlotte next season.
Asked Steve Clifford who’s impressed him most so far. He said it was hard to single out one person but mentioned LaMelo first and how he’s a sponge, stays in the gym and loves to talk basketball.
Then Clifford really raved about Nick Richards. He could have a role this season.
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) September 23, 2022
From 2013 through 2018, in five seasons coaching the Bobcats/Hornets, Clifford compiled a 196-214 (.478) record with the team.
Ball was selected third overall by the Hornets in the 2020 NBA Draft. During his rookie 2020-21 season, in 51 appearances and 31 starts, the rookie averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per contest.
He won NBA Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-Rookie First Team.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford is excited to work with LaMelo Ball
Last season, in 75 starts, Ball averaged 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Plus, the Hornets guard shot 42.9% from the field and 38.9% from 3-point range.
The guard also received his first All-Star selection last season. Because of Kevin Durant’s leg injury, Ball replaced the two-time Finals MVP as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve.
In 22 minutes played of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, Melo recorded 18 points, shooting 7-of-11 (63.6%) from the field and 4-of-8 (50%) from downtown.
On February 2, 2022, in the Hornets’ 113-107 loss against the Boston Celtics, the guard scored a career-high 38 points in 44 minutes of action. Ball finished 12-of-24 (50%) shooting from the floor.
For the 2022-23 season, the California native will wear the No. 1 jersey instead of No. 2. Can the Hornets make the playoffs next season?
During the offseason, the team re-signed forward Cody Martin. Center Mark Wiliams also signed a rookie-scale contract.
In September, the Hornets signed guards Jalen Crutcher and Jaylen Sims. To add to the aforementioned signings, forwards Anthony Duriuji and Isaiah Whaley inked deals as well.