Rookie of the Year Candidate to Miss Remainder of 2020–21 Season?
The Rookie of the Year race was beginning to look one-sided with LaMelo Ball seemingly running away with the award. However, Anthony Edwards has been making a case for the award throughout the past few weeks. Edwards now could have a leg up after LaMelo Ball suffered a thumb fracture on his right hand that might keep him sidelined for the final two months of this NBA season.
Ball suffered the injury against the Clippers when he was driving to the basket. He got fouled while he was up in the air and it knocked him down to the ground. LaMelo put his hands behind himself in an effort to brace his fall. He immediately grabbed at his right wrist and thumb area in pain. The Hornets trainers worked on him on the Charlotte sideline and LaMelo returned to the game with a wrap around that left wrist and thumb area. You could tell something was off as he was fidgeting with that hand every time down the floor.
LaMelo tried to continue playing and noticeably using his left hand to rebound and pass the ball so as to not disturb that injury. He did knock down a deep 3-pointer which was an encouraging sign, but directly after the shot he was holding that injured hand and working on the wrap around it.
He continued to play well into the 3rd quarter before being subbed out of the game. He then had an icepack on his right hand and did not return to action. The following day, the team traveled to San Antonio for a game against the Spurs. MRI’s in San Antonio revealed the fracture which will force LaMelo to miss some time and possibly the rest of his rookie campaign.
LaMelo did undergo successful surgery to repair the fracture and is said to be re-evaluated in 4–6 weeks. This does leave the possibility that Ball could return to action and finish out his rookie year. Even if LaMelo does not return for the regular season, there is potential for him to be available come playoff time should Charlotte make it. LaMelo has set them up nicely with his play since entering the starting lineup. The Hornets currently sit at the 8 spot in the Eastern Conference at 20–21.
This injury is very unfortunate for the Charlotte Hornets but also for NBA fans around the world. LaMelo has been captivating audiences with his flashy, energetic play on the court.
LaMelo has cosistently been at the top of the rookie ladder thus far. Before the injury, he was definitely a Rookie of the Year candidate, but that is in jeopardy now. The continued impressive play from Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton may be too much for LaMelo to maintain his status as the top rookie of the 2020 Draft Class.
If Ball cannot return to finish the season, his averages will look as such; 15.9 PTS, 6.1 APG, and 5.9 RPG in 41 games of action. He started the year off the bench, but quickly forced his way into the starting lineup where his averages steadily improved. Yet again, an unfortunate injury, but a bright future ahead for the #3 overall draft selection by Charlotte.