In TSN’s 2021-22 Southeast Division preview, Kyle Irving’s bold prediction was that Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball would be an All-Star this season.

He doesn’t look so daring anymore.

Nearly 30 games in his sophomore campaign, Ball is making a great All-Star case for himself, leading the Hornets with averages of 19.8 points, 8.0 assists, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. In perspective, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is the only other player in the league to lead his team in each of those four statistical categories.

Ball does it at age 20.

MORE: Jokic Enters Nuggets Record Books, MVP Case Grows

Ball is not only reinvigorating Charlotte’s fan base with his game, but he’s also playing an important role in the Hornets’ resurgence as a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Sure, Charlotte is currently hovering around the .500 mark, but she’s doing it despite having one of the toughest schedules in the NBA to this point in the season. The Hornets remain in the thick of the East’s playoff race even with 22 of their 34 games to date away from Charlotte (including two Western Conference road trips), the payoff is that they now have one of the longest remaining schedules. easy league.

Ball has played a key role in his success earlier in the season.

NBA League Pass: Sign Up to Unlock Live Off-Market Games (7-Day Free Trial)

In addition to his numbers being All-Star caliber, Ball shows the poise of an All-Star every night.

Either because of his ability to pass around the world:

His improvement as a finisher:

Your commitment to growth as a shooter:

Or his bravery in the clutch:

Ball passes the All-Star visual test, but does that guarantee a selection?

MORE: How to Vote for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game Starters

Last season, six guards from the Eastern Conference were selected for the All-Star Game. Assuming the same number of guards are selected in 2022, the question is whether or not Ball has established himself as one of the top six guards in the East.

(Fake images)

This is where he ranks among the guards of the Eastern Conference:

  • Tenth in points per game
  • Fourth in assists per game
  • Second in rebounds per game

Of the East guards, it’s fair to consider the Bulls duo of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine as locks, as well as the Nets’ James Harden, who is working on his 10th consecutive All-Star pick. After those three, Ball will compete with the likes of Bradley Beal, Jaylen Brown, Darius Garland, Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Trae Young for what could be the last three guard spots.

Considering the difficulty of their schedule, Ball’s Hornets have appeared to be as good as Beal’s Wizards, VanVleet’s Raptors and Young’s Hawks up to this point in the season, if not better. The Celtics have been better on streaks, but Brown could back down if he missed time due to injury. Garland, on the other hand, has played an integral role in the Cavaliers’ success this season, but his numbers fall short of Ball’s.

It’s no secret that Miami has the makings of a title contender, but it’s highly unlikely that both Herro Y Lowry represents the Heat in the All-Star Game. Given the shock that doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet, Lowry feels like the most likely candidate.

With Ball reviewing all the criteria for an All-Star, he is building a stronger case than several of his peers in the Eastern Conference.

A bid for the All-Star Game in 2022 would be the first of many.