The Charlotte Hornets are closer than ever to getting a major impact player back from injury. The team announced on Saturday that injured point guard LaMelo Ball has been upgraded to questionable for Saturday night's game against the Miami Heat, which means it's possible he could make his long-awaited season debut.
— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) November 12, 2022
Ball injured his ankle during a preseason matchup against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 10, rolling his left ankle after stepping on the foot of an opposing player. He was diagnosed with a Grade 2 ankle sprain the next day and hasn't played since.
LaMelo Ball apparently went down with a left ankle injury vs. the Wizards. pic.twitter.com/bKVjjb7PfI
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 11, 2022
And the Hornets have definitely missed him. Without Ball, they're 3-10. Even though the NBA season is only a few weeks old, they've already put themselves in a hole in the standings. They're tied with the Detroit Pistons for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, 7.5 games behind the 10-2 Milwaukee Bucks, and are dead last in their own division. The season is long, so there's a lot of time for the Hornets to catch up, but to do that they need Ball back and healthy.
Losing Ball for the start of the season has not helped the Hornets erase the end of the previous season, or chase away the playoff ghosts that have been haunting them. They qualified for last year's play-in game after once again falling just short of locking up a guaranteed playoffs spot, then they lost the play-in for the second year in a row. After that, four-year head coach James Borrego was fired and replaced with Steve Clifford. And the new head coach hasn't exactly set the world on fire with his 3-10 start.
It hasn't been a dream beginning for Clifford and the Hornets, but Ball's imminent return could start moving the team in the right direction.