Charlotte Hornets’ Star LaMelo Ball Sidelined with Ankle Injury
Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball will be out for several weeks as he recovers from a right ankle injury, an MRI revealed the extent of the damage on Sunday. The Hornets had just played one game with their full roster intact before Ball suffered the injury against the Orlando Magic.
The 22-year-old Ball, who has had a history of ankle injuries, missed 21 games during his rookie season in 2020-21 due to a wrist injury. He also had missed games at the start of the 2022-23 season after rolling his left ankle in the preseason. Last November, he stepped on a fan and reinjured the same ankle. In February, Ball fractured his left ankle, underwent surgery, and sat out the rest of the season. His latest injury has left the Hornets without their leading scorer.
Head coach Steve Clifford expressed his frustration, noting that the Hornets had just gotten their projected starting lineup back before Ball’s injury. The team had been dealing with other injuries, including combo guard Terry Rozier, who recently returned to the lineup after missing three weeks with a groin injury. Rozier will be relied upon to pick up some of the scoring slack with Ball sidelined.
Also expected to play a bigger role in the offense is rookie shooting guard Brandon Miller, the second overall pick from the 2023 NBA Draft. Other guards on the roster, including veterans Ish Smith and Bryce McGowens, will also have the opportunity to step up during Ball’s absence.
The news of Ball’s injury comes at a time when the Hornets were finally showing some signs of life, winning two consecutive games before Thanksgiving. However, the team has since struggled, dropping two games in a row and slipping to 5-11 for the season.
As a result of their recent struggles, the Hornets currently find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, ranking #12 out of 15 teams. This has also translated into a poor betting record, with a 6-10 record against the point spread for the season.
Looking ahead, the Hornets face an uphill battle to make it into the playoff picture and are listed as long shots to win both the Southeast Division and the NBA Championship. Despite the challenges, Clifford and the rest of the team remain determined to compete and weather the storm until Ball’s eventual return to the court.