LaMelo Ball's NBA debut didn't exactly go as planned. In only 16 minutes on the floor, the No. 3 overall pick went scoreless and picked up only three assists, two steals and a rebound on the way to a loss. It was technically his second scoreless game in a Hornets uniform, as his preseason debut did not include a single point either, and he became the first top-three pick to go scoreless in his debut since Otto Porter Jr. did in 2013.
Fortunately, he managed to turn things around very quickly against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game No. 2. Ball entered the game with 7:14 left in the first quarter, and only around a minute later, he scored his first NBA point at the free-throw line. Soon after that, he converted his first field goal, a tough layup in traffic.
The relief of scoring his first points seemed to do wonders for Ball. He didn't stop at that layup, following it up with two deep 3-pointers to get him to nine total points in the first quarter alone.
Those nine points made Ball the game's leading scorer through the first quarter. While that distinction will probably be fairly rare during his rookie season, the fact that he's capable of such high-level scoring is encouraging even if it comes inconsistently early on. Ball's best trait is his passing, but as his brother Lonzo has found out, taking advantage of that skill becomes significantly harder when defenses don't respect you as a scorer. Ball doesn't have to be James Harden, but if he can establish himself as a legitimate scoring threat, his passing will become that much more dangerous.
His openers in both the preseason and regular season didn't exactly suggest that was coming this soon. It might only come in fits and starts. But Ball has upside as a scorer, and if he can capitalize on it, he can become one of the better offensive players in basketball.