What LaMelo Ball’s season-ending injury means for Hornets


LaMelo Ball was diagnosed with a broken wrist after an MRI exam in San Antonio, costing him a season in which he was considered Rookie of the Year. Aside from his individual praise, his injury has raised a number of questions about the Charlotte Hornets’ season.

Melo injured his right wrist during Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. In 41 games, he averaged 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals (seventh in the NBA). He also leads all rookies in assists and steals and is second in points and rebounds. Ball not only looked like he won the ROY in a landslide, but likely helped the Hornets to their first postseason appearance since 2016.

With him gone, the Hornets may face challenges, and there will certainly be many questions and concerns throughout the season.

Here’s the play where Lamelo Ball broke his right wrist ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/MO1NdpaIUu

– FOX Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnFSSE) 22. March 2021

LaMelo Ball has mastered the pace of the game for years beyond his years. He can find teammates in rhythm for easy shots or cuts to the basket. Replacing that production as the team’s playmaker will be difficult, but not impossible. Coach James Borrego will have to rely on Graham Devonte to turn things around.

Graham was a starter for the Hornets last season and most of 2020-21, before being sent away by Ball. Either way, it will be hard to repeat the production of LaMelo, who has shown he can score with the best.

Even if the ball is not in play all season, it is important for the Hornets to stay competitive and fight for a chance at the playoffs. The Hornets are currently in 8th place with 20-21 points. but they could easily climb back up if they get a few wins. The team has a good mix of young players and some veterans, so staying competitive in the Eastern Conference is an achievable task.

It’s also a good time to evaluate guys like Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington. Both boys were lottery tickets in their class and they need to win. It will be interesting to see which of them can take their game to the next level.

Washington is only 22 and Bridges is 23. So it’s safe to assume that the Hornets want them to grow up and not be part of the team’s long-term plan. If they take the opportunity and win in LaMelo Ball’s absence, it could mean big contracts for both of them when it comes time to talk about extensions.

The last thing the Hornets need is a tank. Sure, it would be great to pair LaMelo with another lottery player, but it would be disappointing if Charlotte pulled the plug, especially since this might be the best basketball we’ve seen from the team in the last decade.

The Hornets were fun to watch, and they caught the attention of some NBA fans around the world. Whether it’s a crazy crossover from LaMelo or Terry Rozier, or a high-flying dunk from Bridges, this team is slowly becoming a blockbuster. Even if Ball misses the rest of the campaign, we can expect them to play their best 48 minutes.

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