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Hornets hope LaMelo Ball keeps the focus on passing in his second NBA season

The reigning Rookie of the Year dazzled in year one
Credit: AP
Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) looks away while passing the ball past Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) and forward Cam Reddish (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak spoke to reporters Tuesday, and indicated the team was done making deals of any magnitude in the offseason.

The Hornets traded for center Mason Plumlee, signed free agent veterans Kelly Oubre Jr., and Ish Smith, and selected two first round picks (James Bouknight and Kai Jones).

It's clear the team is focusing on athletic playmakers to place around last year's NBA Rookie of the Year, LaMelo Ball.

And Kupchak hopes Ball keeps focusing on his dazzling passing ability.

Ball averaged 6.1 assists in 2020-21, often dropping jaws with precision passing with his own style and flare.

As far as scoring, Ball did better than many thought he would shooting, hitting 35.2% of his three-point attempts and averaging 15.7 points per game.

But Kupchak hopes there isn't pressure on the point guard to turn in to the team's main scorer.

"He's fun to watch, I know he can score," Kupchak said. "Rookie of the Year, maybe there's going to be more expectations. But there's a reason why his teammates are happy playing with him, and that's that he loves to pass the ball. And I think that's his biggest gift. Going forward I think that's what I think we'd like him to focus on."

Meanwhile, Oubre and Smith met with reporters on Tuesday as well.

Oubre is expected to come off of Charlotte's bench, but started 50 games the last two seasons with the Warriors and Suns.

"All I know is I'm going to bring my talents and go all out 100% of the time for this team," Oubre said. "I don't know anything about that, man. I just know we have a lot of talent on this team."

Smith will enjoy a homecoming in Charlotte. 

The Central Cabarrus H.S. graduate's twelve-year career finally brings him home to the Hornets, his 12th NBA team.

"Being home is great," Smith said, "but at the end of the day you've got a job to do, and we've got to get some stuff done. Let's get to work and start something special."