Charlotte Hornets legend Muggsy Bogues has tipped point guard LaMelo Ball to build on a hugely impressive second season in the NBA.
After winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2020/21, hopes were high that Ball could make a big impression this term.
He delivered in style, finishing the year averaging 20.1 points on 42.9% shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.6 steals in 75 appearances.
He was one of just five players to average 20/6/7/1 and the third ever to do so in his age-20 season or younger, joining LeBron James and Luka Doncic.
The 20-year-old was also a thorn in the side of NBA betting oddsmakers from outside the paint, bagging 220 three-pointers on 38.9% shooting.
Those impressive statistics were enough to see Ball named an NBA All-Star for the first time, making him the fourth-youngest player to achieve the feat.
Only James, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson were younger when they were named as first-time All-Stars, highlighting the nature of Ball’s accomplishments.
His efforts inevitably attracted plenty of praise from around the league, with Bogues amongst the respected names to sing his praises.
The 57-year-old featured in the three play-off campaigns with the Hornets and is one of the most popular players to ever represent the club.
He has backed Ball to continue progressing next season and believes he will play a key role in the Hornets’ bid to climb the ranks in the Eastern Conference.
“I love Melo - I love his elevation of his game,” he said. “Being able to be that player, make guys around you better, is always a great asset to have.
“He's a young player who's got a lot more room to grow, but getting that that label of being an All-Star in his second year in the league will do a lot with his confidence.
“And being around those type of players, it puts you in a class and gives you an understanding where you want to stay.
“So hopefully, that's something that he understands, which I think he does, and he will continue to work on this off-season to get even better.”
While Ball undoubtedly played a key role in the Hornets’ improvement this season, he was unable to help the team qualify for the play-offs.
A disappointing 132-103 defeat against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference play-in game demonstrated that the Hornets still have plenty of areas they need to work on.
Their defensive record is a major issue, and is something the team’s new head coach will need to address as a matter of urgency this summer.
Bogues acknowledges that Ball also has elements in his game he must fine-tune if he is to cement his place alongside some of the NBA’s greats in sports today.
“I think people were surprised the way he shot the basketball this year, he really stroked it well, gained a lot of confidence,” he added.
“So now, for me, it's about him understanding how to control the tempo of the game, because he's got the ability to do that.
“When the game slows down a little more for him in his head, he's able to pick and choose the times where he can speed up and then slow down when it's needed.”
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