LaMelo Ball
(Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

Eight games into the 2020-2021 NBA season, the time has come. Rookie guard LaMelo Ball needs to start for the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 3-5 record. It’s still early in the season, but starting Ball might get them on the right track towards the playoff picture.

Charlotte selected Ball with the third overall pick in this past year’s NBA Draft. At the time, I graded the pick an A+. The Timberwolves and Warriors both passed on the 6’8″ playmaker in favor of Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman.

LaMelo Ball Should Start Over Devonte’ Graham

LaMelo Ball is a special talent. He might have been the best prospect in his draft class. It’s time for the Hornets to take the kid gloves off and get him in the starting rotation. Devonte’ Graham, one of last season’s most notable breakout players, has been struggling to get going in the 2020-21 campaign. Charlotte needs to seriously consider moving Graham to the bench in favor of Ball, who is playing much better basketball right now. Let’s compare their stats so far:

PlayerGamesStartsMPGPPGRPGAPGFG%3FG%PER
Devonte’ Graham8831.810.43.16.326.0%31.7%9.2
LaMelo Ball8024.011.85.14.940.5%34.3%16.8

Thus far, Ball is shooting much more efficiently than Graham. He is also averaging more points and rebounds despite starting zero games and averaging fewer minutes. LaMelo’s Player Efficiency Rating is also significantly higher. Overall, he’s been a much more valuable player for the Hornets that impacts winning more than Graham.

We are only about a tenth of the way through the season. I have little doubt that Devonte’ Graham will make it out of the shooting slump he currently finds himself in. I’ve watched him since Kansas, and he’s too good of a shooter for this to keep up. However, for fringe playoff teams like the Hornets, one or two games is usually the difference between making the postseason or missing it entirely. With the way LaMelo is playing, he gives Charlotte a better shot at winning basketball games.

It shouldn’t be a controversial idea that playing your best players gives you a better chance to win. Right now, Ball is the better player and deserves to start.

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