When sizing up LiAngelo Ball's game and citing some of his best attributes, Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Dutch Gaitley pointed directly to the 23-year-old's brawn.
Essentially Gaitley's message is this: Don't be fooled by Ball's stature.
“The first thing … is strength,” Gailtley said Tuesday following the Hornets' first practice in preparation for their Las Vegas Summer League opener against Portland on Sunday. “He’s a strong kid. I think he's lost a little bit of weight since he's been with us and he looks a little more cut, a little more defined. Great confidence in his shot. He shoots it very, very well. Very quick release.”
Gaitley also noted Ball, listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, can hold his own on the interior more than one may initially believe. Particularly when it comes to keeping things alive for extra possessions.
"For his size you wouldn’t think it, (but) he’s a very good offensive rebounder," Gaitley said. "He does a great job crashing the glass, getting in there. I think that helps with his strength."
One area the Hornets want to sharpen is Ball’s effectiveness on the other side of the ball. That likely will not happen overnight, partially because the staff has to work with Ball so he's fully knowledgable about their principles and philosophies.
Being able to guard more than one position and more than one area on the floor is an important aspect of the Hornets' game plan.
"Defensively, it’s on us to help mold that into what our defensive schemes are," Gaitley said, "how we can teach him what we are doing in pick-and-roll, and everything like that. And just give him the terminology and help him along with that. When he was with us these last couple of weeks, we just let the guys play. Now we are adding a little more framework and I think that's where we are going to help him along in that part, of just helping him, teach him how we’re going to play."
That essentially goes for everyone. In fact, Gaitley also echoed what GM Mitch Kupchak said Friday: not one player will get a free pass. If they aren't effective, they won't be on the court.
"I think one thing Mitch mentioned at his press conference the other day when we introduced the guys, (is) there’s a lot of guys on our summer league roster that are competing for minutes," Gaitley said. "Nobody’s going to be guaranteed anything. And as I told the guys, they are going to make the decision of who’s going to play the most. Who’s going to be able to compete defensively, understand our schemes? And offensive, who's going to be able to make plays get into the paint, kick it out for others?
"So I think they are going to make the decision. Obviously, we’ll get some direction from our coaching staff, from the rest of the coaching staff, from our front office of what we want to see and how we want to see it. But a lot of this next four, five days of practice they are going to decide who’s going to play."