LaMelo Ball cleared by Hornets to return from wrist fracture to basketball activities

Jason Owens
·2-min read

Charlotte Hornets rookie guard LaMelo Ball had the cast removed from his fractured right wrist and has been cleared to return to individual basketball activities

The Hornets announced the news on Monday after a CT scan confirmed that the injury had healed. The previous front-runner for Rookie of the Year honors appears poised to make an unexpected return to the Hornets' lineup before the season is done. The team did not project a timetable for his return to the lineup.

Ball's season was thought to be over

Ball suffered the injury during a March 20 game against the Los Angeles Clippers. He collapsed to the floor on a drive and injured his wrist while bracing his fall.

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Ball continued to play against the Clippers through the injury. The Hornets announced the next day that an MRI revealed a broken bone in his wrist. The injury was reportedly expected to sideline him for the remainder of the season. 

Ball's return boosts Charlotte's playoff hopes

The Hornets were 20-21 when Ball suffered the injury and poised for their first playoff berth since 2016 on the heels of a 23-42 campaign last season. Ball's emergence was a significant factor in Charlotte's year-over-year improvement, and his injury alongside a foot sprain that sidelined Gordon Hayward threatened to tank Charlotte's postseason hopes. 

But the Hornets have kept afloat at 28-28, which was good for eighth place in the Eastern Conference as of Monday. They're two games behind the the sixth-place New York Knicks (31-27), who control the last guaranteed playoff berth in the East. Teams that finish 7-10 will compete in a play-in for the final two postseason spots in each conference.

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 17, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Lamelo Ball's expected return resets the Rookie of the Year race and Charlotte's playoff hopes. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Will Ball re-emerge in Rookie of the Year race?

Through 41 games, Ball averaged 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 45.1% from the field and 37.5% from 3-point distance. The performance allayed concerns that his shooting stroke would be a liability at the NBA level as Ball surpassed the lofty expectations he carried to Charlotte as the No. 3 pick in the 2020 draft. 

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards and Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Halliburton overtook Ball in the Rookie of the Year race in his absence. But Ball's expected return would reset the race while boosting Charlotte's hopes of playing in the postseason. The Hornets have 16 games remaining on their schedule. 

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