It’s funny how we were just talking about how the media has reduced the Memphis Grizzlies down to a single player (Ja Morant). Tonight, the Rockets take on a team that seemingly has one player.
I’m sure that if I walked into the ESPN offices and asked their anchors to list five members of the Charlotte Hornets, they would say LeMelo Ball’s name five times. Okay, maybe Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier might get a mention, but nothing would be said about Malik Monk or Miles Bridges. The Hornets have Caleb and Cody Martin on the team, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many outside the NBA’s most informed fans that would know that there’s a team in the NBA with twins that aren’t the Morris or Lopez brothers.
The Ball hype is obvious to understand. LaMelo has been under the spotlight since he was a high school freshman. Trips across the Atlantic and then Pacific to play in other leagues always kept him in the consciousness of NBA fans. Years ago, Brandon Jennings (Bucks in 6!) passed on college in order to play in Europe to make some money. He was largely forgotten by non-scouts because social media wasn’t around. Melo’s highlights hit Twitter and Youtube as soon as they happened, allowing the Ball family to continue their omnipresence. Ball is averaging 16 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds per game. Tyrese Haliburton may give him a run for his money, but the Rookie of the Year is Ball’s to lose.
Tonight is the first game of a back-to-back for Houston. According to Jonathan Feigen, it appears as if the Rockets will play both John Wall and Victor Oladipo tonight. That’s different from the team’s most recent back-to-back, in which the Rockets sat Wall in one game and Oladipo in the other.
Update: Wall and Eric Gordon will not play tonight for rest purposes.
The Hornets are on the second night of a back-to-back, but they played early on Super Bowl Sunday and blew the doors off the Washington Wizards, so their rotation players should be well rested tonight.
Tip-off is at 6pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest and NBA TV