LaMelo Ball suffered through a historically bad debut in his first official NBA game on Wednesday, going scoreless in 16 minutes of action in a loss to the Cavaliers. Ball shot just five times in the contest and never saw the court in the fourth quarter as the Hornets made a spirited comeback without him.
Gordon Hayward, one of the Hornets most tenured players, took Ball aside after the game and offered some advice, which he shared with the media following Wednesday’s loss.
“I told him just to forget this one,” he said. “There’s going to be so many nights where he is, you know, playing his game and playing really well. So, I said ‘Don’t worry about this one at all. We all know the type of player that you are.’ Some days are diamonds, some days are stones and I think it’s something where it’s his first game and, you know, those things happen.
“But I have ultimate confidence in LaMelo. I think he’s going to be a great player this year and for many, many years and a great player in this league and so I think he’ll be all right.”
Hayward’s own debut was a struggle as well, though not to the degree of Ball. In 2010, Hayward came off the bench for the Jazz and went 4-for-11 with nine points in a 110-88 loss.
Ball’s role with the Hornets is not that of a typical top-3 pick, which should be factored into his final stat line. Unlike fellow top picks Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman, there is not a hole in the starting of the team Ball was drafted to that allowed him to step in from day one.
In fact, Wednesday’s performance from Charlotte’s starting backcourt should serve as further evidence of Ball’s unique situation as one guard, Terry Rozier, scored 42 points while the other, Devonte’ Graham, notched a double-double.
Ball will be brought along slowly by head coach James Borrego and the Hornets staff. Having teammates like Hayward at his side providing encouragement will only make that long process easier.
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