LaMelo Ball — one of this season’s cant-take-my-eyes-off-him players — is about to make his return to the court.
LaMelo has been out for more than a month after fracturing his right wrist, but when the cast came off recently it was hoped he could return for a stretch run into the playoffs with the Hornets. The team officially moved his status to questionable on Friday, and now comes news that LaMelo’s stretch run is expected to start Saturday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The No. 3 pick overall by Charlotte, LaMelo is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year — a status he never lost despite the time missed — averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game this season. His passing was expected to be head-turning entering the draft, but his 3-point shot (37.5%) and defense have better than advertised.
However, what truly has set Ball apart from the other rookies is he impacted winning with the Hornets — he is a key reason they are a surprise play-in/playoff team. Charlotte sits as the eighth seed in the East, just one game up on the nine-seed Indiana, but 4.5 games up on 11 seed Chicago (and falling out of the postseason). Ball and company will get their chance in the play-in games (and if they can hold on to the eighth seed, they need to win one of two games to advance to the playoffs).
LaMelo brings an “it” factor that is must watch, and his return in time for the NBA’s stretch run is good news for fans everywhere.