LaMelo Ball’s injury has sent shockwaves not only to the NBA but to the Charlotte Hornets organization. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel and there are a few reasons why the Hornets should not be worried about the loss of their star guard and frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.
LaMelo Ball’s Injury: Strong Supporting Cast
When people watch the Charlotte Hornets play, LaMelo Ball was the star attraction, but there are several players that deserve the shine in helping the Hornets stay in playoff contention.
Gordon Hayward, the big free agent acquisition from the off season has been worth every penny in his first year with the Hornets. Hayward is averaging 19.9 points per game which would be the second highest PPG of his career (21.9 in 2016-17 with Utah).
Terry Rozier has shined as the leading point getter with 20.5 PPG. Rozier, Ball, Devonte’ Graham, Malik Monk, and P.J. Washington are all averaging in double digits, while Miles Bridges has been the player to give the Hornets a spark on offense with his highlight reel dunks. Even with the loss of LaMelo, the Charlotte Hornets have a bunch of guys on the roster that can get buckets on any given night.
The Eastern Conference Logjam
Apart from the “Big 3” in the Eastern Conference (Sixers, Nets and Bucks) the 4 -10 seeds in the Eastern Conference are separated by 3.5 games. The list of teams in that list includes three playoff staples in the Celtics, Heat, and Pacers and a few newcomers to the dance like the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Chicago Bulls.
With the teams separated by by only three wins, every game matters and having a major win streak is key to being in the playoffs come May.
For the Charlotte Hornets, they are currently in first place in the Southeast Division and have winning records against the Miami Heat (2-0), Atlanta Hawks (2-0), New York Knicks (1-0), Brooklyn Nets (1-0), and the Milwaukee Bucks (1-0).
To win in the dog days of the playoffs, you must win against the best of the Eastern Conference. The Charlotte Hornets are on the right path, but any slipup can lead the Hornets from a guaranteed playoff spot to earning a spot in the play-in tournament.
Many fans and NBA experts were not even considering the Charlotte Hornets as a threat when the season began, having the Hornets in the bottom half of the NBA standings due to the previous history of the team not meeting even the lowest of expectations.
A young team, LaMelo Ball not being ready for the spotlight, Gordon Hayward having the worst free agent contract in NBA history, and a stacked Eastern Conference, are all obstacles that the Hornets had to face in the early goings of the season. After 40+ games, it is safe to say that the Charlotte Hornets have exceeded all expectations that have been placed on them in the beginning of the season. Will LaMelo Ball’s injury spin the Hornets off course? Only time will tell.
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