The Charlotte Hornets suffered a 22-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night, but it turns out the result might be the least of their worries. On Sunday, the team announced that rookie LaMelo Ball, has suffered a fractured wrist and is officially out indefinitely. However, he is expected to miss the rest of the season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ball is in the process of receiving a second opinion on the diagnosis and potential treatment options, but at least for now it appears his debut campaign has come to an end. Per Wojnarowski, Ball will meet with a hand specialist named Dr. Michelle Carlson in New York. Carlson previously operated on Hornets big man Cody Zeller.
Late in the second quarter of the Hornets’ loss to the Clippers, Ball went hard to the basket on the fast break and crashed to the ground after being fouled. He braced his fall with his wrist, and immediately grabbed for it and grimaced upon landing. The medical staff examined him and gave him the all clear to return to the game in the second half, but he later underwent more extensive testing that revealed the fracture.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Ball became a star almost immediately because of his skill and flair, and was the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year. In particular, his sometimes outrageous passes made him a highlight machine and endeared him to everyone, casual fans and hardcore analysts alike.
But Ball wasn’t just a blessing for social media coordinators. He was an extremely high-level player for a rookie, and able to impact the game in almost every area. Through his first 41 games, he was averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists, while shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point land — a much better mark than everyone was expecting.
With Ball leading the way, and free-agent signing Gordon Hayward returning to his pre-injury form, the Hornets are in the middle of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. The loss to the Clippers dropped them to 20-21 on the season, but they remain in eighth place, and just 1.5 games back of fourth.
Obviously it remains to be seen if they can hang on and make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but there’s no question their job just got a lot more difficult. Ball wasn’t just giving them solid production, but was the driving force behind their entire style of play.
Courtesy: CBS Sports