Lavar Ball says the Charlotte Hornets need to quit messing around and name his son Melo as the starting point guard ... telling TMZ Sports it's time to let the kid shine.
LaMelo was the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- and has already flashed his immense potential during the pre-season.
But, when the season kicked off this week, Melo was #2 on the depth chart behind 25-year-old Devonte' Graham ... a 2nd round 2018 NBA Draft pick who was a star during his college days at Kansas.
We saw LaVar at a Big Baller Brand holiday charity event in L.A. on Wednesday before Melo's first NBA game as a pro and asked him about Charlotte's starting 5.
LaVar says bluntly that Melo deserves a starting role right now -- explaining, "If [Melo is] your marquee guy, what marquee guy don’t start?"
Melo had a rough first game -- missing all 5 of his shots in 16 minutes on the floor ... but it's obvious he can play. Even Shaq vouched for him this week.
There's more with LaVar ... he also told us about the plan for his son LiAngelo (who was recently released by the Detroit Pistons) and why he's still holding out hope all 3 of his boys will eventually play on the same team.
As for Lonzo, LaVar is excited about the situation in New Orleans -- especially with Zo playing for head coach Stan Van Gundy ... telling us it's a good fit for Zo's skill set.
Oh, and we also asked LaVar how he would handle the James Harden drama if he was running the show in Houston ... and it's interesting.
The bottom line ... LaVar says if Harden wants to leave, the Rockets shouldn't stand in his way -- as long as he doesn't go to Charlotte or New Orleans!!!