ESPN loves to make lists. Top 100 players, best front offices, top 10 teams in five years. All sorts of stuff. Today they released their top 25 players under 25 years old. The Charlotte Hornets had one player crack the list–guard LaMelo Ball came in at number nine. Here’s his snippet:
Last year was a lost one for Ball, who played in only 36 games during a dismal season in Charlotte. But as he showed in a recent head-to-head duel with Luka Doncic in Dallas, when Ball had a 30-point triple-double, Ball has the ability to create offense as well as anyone in the league. He needs to improve as a finisher — he has consistently shot below 60% at the rim — and as a defender to move further up this list.
It’s hard to argue with any of that, but it’s good to see the national media consensus is still really high on Ball even while it sees like Hornets fans have maybe soured a bit.
Noticeably absent from the list are Brandon Miller and to a lesser extent Mark Williams. The list is a mix of actual production along with future projections, and the Hornets seem to be lost in the middle of that shuffle. Like Scoot Henderson is ranked 23 despite his rough start to the season, ahead of Alperen Sengun, an actual good player already. Keegan Murray is ranked 23rd as a 23 year old second year player that is averaging 12 points per game. Meanwhile Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren are ranked third and 13th respectively purely based off projection. It’s kinda funky that Brandon Miller got left out of all of that. He ended up in the “others receiving votes” footnore.
Defensive centers Jalen Duren (21st) and Walker Kessler (20th) cracked the list, so there’s a chance Mark Williams can make next year’s edition if he puts in a strong season the rest of the way. For now, we’ll have to settle with being angry that the national media doesn’t respect the Hornets.