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James Borrego says LaMelo Ball is making a major impact for Hornets in preseason

LaMelo Ball had his best game of the preseason on Thursday, further showcasing his willingness and eagerness to improve with the Hornets.

Prior to Thursday night’s game, Charlotte head coach James Borrego encouraged his rookie point guard LaMelo Ball to get the rim more often and utilize his crafty finishing, as Borrego called it. Through the first two games, Ball had attempted just three shots at the rim.

Ball responded by more than doubling his attempts at the rim, going 3-for-5 on the night as part of the best scoring night of his preseason as the No. 3 pick poured in 18 points in a 123-115 win for the Hornets in Orlando.

It also has perfectly encapsulated Ball’s eagerness to improve and his willingness to adjust his game at the behest of teammates and coaches. While the playmaking has continued to come, Ball’s scoring has improved each game as he also knocked down four threes in Thursday’s win.

“To me, it’s impressive,” Borrego said of Ball. “This guy’s a rookie and he’s having a major impact on these games immediately. He’s a playmaker. He’s confident. He sets the tone for our pace, our energy, our ball movement. He was confident in his shot. They went under on him a few times. He stepped up made shots, made good decisions. He competed defensively.

“There are obviously things that we all got to clean up but (I’m) really proud of how he handled himself out there tonight. I saw him make a step from game two to game three,” he continued. “He picked his spots, too. I thought he got to the rim. I think I said that before in pregame. I wanted him to get to the rim more because he’s a crafty finisher, as you all saw. I mean, he can finish with both hands around the bucket and he can kick it at the rim. So, I want him in the paint at the rim to make those decisions.”

Ball has not only showcased a willingness to get better, he’s openly sought information throughout training camp and the preseason. After going scoreless in the opener, Ball adjusted and knocked down a pair of threes in game two. On Thursday, he put the two together, dictating the game at times with both his scoring and playmaking.

“…He just oozes confidence,” Borrego said. “You know, he just he plays with great confidence. He believes that shots going every time he takes it. Obviously, there are things that we can all get better on in our shooting and those are things we’ll continue to address. But probably the number one thing in shooting is confidence and I want him to shoot the ball with confidence.

“If he sees an open shot, step up and shoot it. If somebody else is open, kick it. But that’s one of the things I mentioned after we drafted him. The confidence to shoot the ball is extremely important. I don’t see that changing. That’s the type of kid he is.”

He finished the night 7-of-17 from the field, not quite efficient but a far cry from the 3-of-15 he was through the first two games.

Even with the caveats of it being early in the preseason with a small sample size, Ball still seems to be quickly adjusting to life in the NBA and making an increasingly bigger impact each game.

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