LaMelo Ball’s Return: Point Guard Continues To Push For Comeback

Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball is nearing a return to the court following a right ankle sprain that has seen him miss several games.

NBA Ball Photo Credit: Pixabay

Ball sustained the injury during a game against the Orlando Magic in late November and, while he was able to avoid structural damage, has not been able to return to playing. The Hornets are worse for wear without their starting point guard and are 13th in the East with a 7-21 record.

Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints reports that he hasn’t been cleared to take contact in team practice while there’s no timeline for a return as yet (H/T CBS Sports). Fans participating in sports betting in North Carolina will eagerly await the guard’s return to the floor as they know his ability to positively impact games. He was averaging 24.7 points and 8.2 points per contest before his injury.

The former Chino Hills star resumed individual on-court work earlier in December and is progressing well. However, a return to competitive action isn’t considered imminent, with the player needing several full-contact practices before he is cleared to play again. He is also expected to have his minutes restricted when he does make a return.

Ball spoke about the injury for the first time nearly two weeks after it occurred: “Just to have two shoes on and walking around touching the ball, it’s always great,” he said, per The Charlotte Observer. “So, that feels better right there. Just slow progress. I’m doing treatment every day, just trying to get better. From when it happened, it feels a little better.”

The one-time All-Star had to overcome mental and physical hurdles as he’s had some history with his right foot. It’s the one he had a season-ending injury on back in March. He needed help from two people to get off the court.
“Yeah, I knew it was the ankle that I hurt,” he explained. “That’s probably what messed with my head a little. I was like, ‘Oooh.’ I really didn’t feel like I could put pressure on it, so I really didn’t try.”

Terry Rozier will continue to start in his place, which opens up minutes for the likes of Brandon Miller, Cody Martin, and Bryce McGowens. Rozier has been averaging 22.9 points and 7.1 points per game this season, shooting 45.6 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from three. Ball expressed lots of confidence in the former Boston Celtics guard after it became clear he was going to be out for a while.

Photo by Ramiro Pianarosa on Unsplash

“We know what Terry can do,” he said. “Right when I was down, we knew we were good at getting T-Ro back. So, he’s just pretty much putting that on display right now. The assists, the scoring, everything. He’s a really great player and he’s just doing what he needs to do.”

As to what he’s doing to speed up his return, Ball claimed he’s been doing everything possible and everything he’s been asked to do by the team’s doctors.
“Everything you can think of,” he said. “A little movement this way, that way. Icing, getting ready. Everything they say.” It feels way better than when it happened because at first I couldn’t even put any pressure on my foot. But now I can stand on two feet, walk a little. Still (have) a little limp, but way better than it was.”

“He’s been great the whole time,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “He wants to be out there. He’s starting to feel better, but he loves the game. So, he’s great with his teammates. He’s supportive, he’s up in practice. You see him a lot of practice, he’s right up on the sideline watching. He wants to make sure when he gets back he’s on top of things. So, he has a love of the game.”

The Hornets are expected to climb the Eastern Conference standings once their best player is back. The conference is very competitive, as is the case every season, yet a good run of wins could push them back into playoff contention or at least a play-in spot.