LaMelo Ball is back after missing 20 games due to an ankle injury he incurred six weeks ago. During Ball's time out, the Hornets have gone an abysmal 3-17, and after Friday night's 135-99 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, they now sit in the thirteenth position of the Eastern Conference, ahead of the six-win Wizards and the three win Pistons.
Despite the 36-point loss to the Spurs last night, Ball left the Frost Bank Center, ensuring the rest of the NBA knew he is back with a vengeance. In 27 minutes of play, Ball put together a 28-point performance with 5 assists and 3 rebounds. Ball led Charlotte in points and finished second in assists after sitting out for the last month and a half.
The Spurs are last in the Western Conference with just seven wins, so even though Ball performed well, the team around him has to do better if they want to be competitive this season.
With the $31.5m burden on the roster that is Gordon Hayward, who averages 14.5 points in 31.9 minutes, I don't expect the Hornets to do too much in terms of improving this season. Maybe I have PTSD from when we were paying Batum all that money to be a bench rider, but the second Hayward is off the roster, and the team can allocate those funds towards other assets, the Hornets will become a playoff regular.
Though I expected more than 8 wins up to this point in the season for the Hornets, I fully believe this season should be a developmental season more than a contending season, especially since we have Ball, Miller, and Washington for at least the next two seasons after the current season ends.
Now that LaMelo is back, the Hornets can start getting back on track to finish this season somewhat successfully. With the news of the Spectrum Center undergoing renovations to enhance the fan experience, there is a lot of Buzz in Buzz City. All eyes will be on the Hornets the next few games, and they will need to make the most of it.