LOS ANGELES – Of course, LaMelo Ball didn’t make it back to the Staples Center unnoticed on Saturday when the Clippers got their first look at the youngest of the high-profile Ball brothers.
After LaMelo Ball stepped into public consciousness as the brightening star at Chino Hills High School, there was a first NBA swing through LA on Thursday with a performance of 26 points, seven assists and five rebounds in Charlotte’s defeat against the Lakers.
The rookie, who was voted 3rd overall by the Hornets in last year’s draft, caught the attention of the Clippers – and for good reason. The 19-year-old is more than just a bolt of lightning: he averages 16 points (most of them from a rookie alongside Anthony Edwards with 16.7 points) and 6.2 assists (most among the rookies and with Steph Curry, the star of the Golden State, for the 21st division). .
« Kids is special. He’s very talented, » Clippers guard Reggie Jackson said of Zoom from outside the shootaround on Saturday morning. « His thoughts, he’s ahead. He is confident in himself. He makes everyone around him better. So we’re definitely seeing what type of player he is and how he will be in this league for a long, long time. «
Clippers’ coach Tyronn Lue said he was – like everyone else who watched – impressed with Ball’s vision on the pitch.
« Just the things he sees on the floor and only sees tape and film on him, he makes some passes that you don’t think most people would see, » Lue said before the tip on Saturday. « He delivers it on time and in a targeted manner. »
Ball’s own trainer, James Borrego, reiterated the Clippers’ appreciation and marveled at Ball’s serenity over the years – and his inherent daring, which reminds him of the way the great Manu Ginóbili of San Antonio Spurs played
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« At the age of 19, it’s like he’s been doing this for a few years to get into the NBA and not be dependent on the moment, the schedule and the pace of the game, » Borrego said of Ball, which it’s already had a 34-point game and a 12-assist game in its 40-game NBA coaching.
« And second, it’s just his ability to influence winning. At such a young age he was a huge part of our winning a number of games this year, and that’s not always the case with a 19-year-old. You can look up and down on the draft board, it rarely happens. «
» Who would I compare him to? « continued Borrego, who was assistant coach in San Antonio for three seasons before taking over in Charlotte. » The next thing I saw, I was there and trained is Manu Ginóbili. Only the ability to play out of instinct, out of the competitive spirit, sometimes just to make something out of nothing. And second, both of them have this ability if they’re just trying to beat home run after home run. »
So, Jackson said, the Clippers had to make a goal of slowing Ball’s bounce.
« All I have to do is try to slow my pace, » said the Clippers security guard, who is known to show a little flair at times. “I have to test his grip, try to unbalance him a little… I also have to get him to work on the defensive. He just has to feel as uncomfortable offensive as possible. Don’t allow him to look over the defense and we have to take care of the ball offensively. Because where it is very special is the transition and play for everyone. »
Center Serge Ibaka missed his third game in a row after ending the Clippers’ defeat in New Orleans prematurely with a strained backache. Security guard Patrick Beverley was also back outside, tending to the sore right knee that resulted in him missing the entire three-game road trip.
Neither player was able to participate in training on Friday, said Lue, who described his participation as follows: « Nothing. »
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