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LaMelo Ball cleared to resume basketball activities [UPDATE]

Hornets rookie guard’s fractured wrist has fully healed and it looks like he could return this season after all.

LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets warms up prior to a game against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on March 20, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.  Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

UPDATE: April 19 — Ball has been deemed fully healed from his fractured wrist and has been cleared to resume basketball activities. This is huge news for the Hornets rookie and could have big implications in the Rookie of the Year race. There isn’t much basketball left in the regular season, but Ball could be back for the final month and could return to have an impact on the playoff race. There’s optimism Ball can return within 7-10 days, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There isn’t a timetable for Ball’s return to the lineup. The Hornets are 28-28 and are dealing with a ton of injuries, including Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington and most recently Devonte’ Graham. Getting Ball back in the lineup would be huge with the Hornets sitting in 8th place in the East, 2.0 games up on the Pacers.

If the timeline above from Woj is correct, there’s a chance Ball is back on April 27 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. The longer end of the stick means the rookie sensation wouldn’t be back until the beginning of May, which would be a six-game wait.

UPDATE: April 5 — Ball remains sidelined and we expect he’ll be re-evaluated toward the end of the month. If Ball gets cleared to return with a month or so to go in the season, what are his chances of winning Rookie of the Year? Well, they’re much better than after the news dropped that he needed wrist surgery.

After the Ball injury, Anthony Edwards shot up to a heavy favorite. That number has since come down with Edwards at +100, Tyrese Haliburton at +150 and Ball sitting at +200 to win ROTY despite being sidelined. At first, there was just a gross overreaction to the injury. You could have made the case even if Ball missed the rest of the season, he was deserving of Rookie of the Year. Edwards has played well on a bad team and mostly scores in an inefficient way. Perhaps the media and books are realizing this and thus the lines have shifted more in favor of Hali and Ball.

UPDATE: March 23 — Ball underwent surgery to repair his fractured wrist on Tuesday and is expected to be re-evaluated in four weeks, Shams Charania reported. Ball has a chance to return before the end of the season, per Shams.

The Charlotte Hornets announced Rookie of the Year frontrunner LaMelo Ball has a fractured wrist, the team tweeted late Sunday. Ball was forced to leave Saturday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers early due to the injury. Ball will seek a second opinion on the wrist and will be instructed on next steps, per Shams. Right now, Ball is the leader to win ROTY on DraftKings Sportsbook at -715.

Ball is out indefinitely but is expected to miss the rest of the season, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This is a huge blow to the Hornets and everyone around the NBA, frankly. Ball was a lot of fun to watch so far in his rookie season and this sucks. He could lose out on winning Rookie of the Year, but there is a case to be made for him to win despite missing the rest of the season, which would be about two months or so.

Right now ROTY odds have been taken down. There’s a chance when they go back up that Ball is still the favorite but the line is much closer. The more likely scenario is Minnesota Timberwolves G Anthony Edwards takes over as the favorite and would be the best bet to win the award. Edwards has created a pretty decent case over the last month with D’Angelo Russell sidelined. The 2020 No. 1 overall pick had a slow start to his rookie campaign but has come on lately, scoring a career-high 42 points on Thursday vs. the Suns.

In terms of fantasy basketball, if you have Ball it’s going to be tough to replace him. The Hornets will likely give the keys to the offense back to Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. Charlotte had been playing well, sitting in 8th place in the East at 20-21 entering Sunday. The playoffs may not happen with Ball sidelined. Rozier, Graham and PJ Washington are all going to have to step up. We could see Gordon Hayward be more aggressive on offense as well. It’ll take a group effort really. Graham would be the target on the waiver wire.

Ball was averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds with a 18.52 PER in 41 games this season (21 starts). If this is indeed the last time he’ll play as a rookie, his shooting splits finish at 45/37/79.