Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-105 on the weekend, and rookie LeMelo Ball used the game to become the youngest ever NBA player to record a triple-double. His stats of 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists made him just the fifth-ever rookie to achieve the feat in NBA history.
At 19 years and 140 days old when he achieved the feat, Ball surpasses Markelle Fultz, who was 19 years and 317 days old when he managed it. Ball is also the first player in Hornets history to come off the bench and score a triple-double, and only the second overall player to do it after Kemba Walker. Fultz managed the feat while he was playing for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018.
The victory was the Hornets’ third straight win and their head coach James Borrego was delighted with Ball’s performance. He said: “A 19-year-old rookie does not look like this. This is rare, what you’re seeing.” The player also produced his joint-highest scoring night with a nine from 13 record shooting from the field.
Ball, the third overall pick in the 2020 draft, had almost achieved his first triple-double just two nights previously, when he starred in his team’s victory over New Orleans Pelicans, the team for whom his brother Lonzo plays. Against the Pelicans, LaMelo Ball produced 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, coming to close to his first triple-double.
Ball: I know that’s supposed to happen
The player himself was very much staying grounded after his recent feats, confidently asserting after the win over the Hawks that, “I know that’s supposed to happen.”
Borrego was also very pleased with the energy and spirit showed by the rookie, but it is his confidence and maturity that really impresses the coach, who thinks Ball looks like he has been playing “for a number of years.”
That maturity on the court might be due to Ball having played overseas before returning to the NBA. He forewent playing college basketball to head to Australia and play for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League. He won NBL rookie of the year in 2019.
One player who enjoyed starring alongside Ball against the Hawks was PJ Washington who contributed 22 points to the victory. One of Washington’s three-pointers was the result of a slick behind-the-back pass from Ball, and Washington stated afterwards that it is hard to know what is coming next from Ball, given the way that he can produce extraordinary passes.
Hornets face Mavericks next
On Tuesday, the Hornets continued their good form with a 109-88 home win over the New York Knicks. Ball played 30 minutes in the victory, scoring eight points and chipping in with seven assists and 14 rebounds.
The Hornets now have a 6-5 overall record, with their next game being a clash with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. The Mavericks have been in good form themselves and will be going hunting for their fourth straight win against the Hornets.