When Charlotte Hornets’ star point guard takes the court this year he will be doing so with a new accessory, ankle braces. Ball stated that he would be during the Hornets’ media day on Monday.
This development comes after Ball fractured his ankle in late February, subsequently ending his season. Ball missed 24 of the first 27 games last season before returning for 33 of the next 36 until his year came to a premature end due to the injury. Ball saw his scoring average increase from 20.1 to 23.3, but there were concerns about his efficiency while doing so. Additionally, Ball averaged a career-high 8.4 assists per game, quite an impressive mark considering Charlotte’s roster makeup and talent level.
The 36 games played by Ball in 2022-23 were the fewest of his career. The Hornets struggled with and without Ball, going 13-23 with him on the court and just 14-32 while he was injured. Charlotte managing to have one more win in 10 more chances speaks volumes about the lack of talent on last year’s roster.
The Hornets are a team that is very dependable on the availability of Ball, with their above-mentioned record without him being a clear indicator of that fact. Making the decision to wear ankle braces should help keep Ball on the court and hopefully prevent further injury to his ankles.
This is a very pivotal year for the Hornets franchise, as they are looking to rebound from last year’s disappointing campaign. The Hornets clearly have more talent than last year’s disappointing 27-55 record would indicate, and it is time for this franchise to make a collective step forward. While genuine playoff qualification may be too lofty of a goal, finding a way into the Play-In Tournament conversation would be an impressive accomplishment for the organization. It is important for the team to have realistic goals, and this is one that would certainly qualify, but they are going to need Ball to appear in at least twice as many games than last year’s total for that to happen.