Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball has been cleared to return to individual basketball activity following a wrist fracture.
Ball has been sidelined since undergoing surgery to address a fracture in his right wrist after the Hornets star was hurt against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 20.
NBA Rookie of the Year favourite at the time of the injury, there had been fears Ball – the third pick in the 2020 Draft – would miss the remainder of his first season in the league.
But on Monday, the Hornets said Ball underwent further evaluation in New York City, where the 19-year-old had his cast removed and a CT scan confirmed the wrist had healed.
The Hornets are eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 28-28 record.
Prior to suffering a wrist fracture in March, Ball ranked first in assists and steals among rookies, second in scoring and is tied for second in rebounds.
The face of an emerging and exciting franchise boasting Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, DeVonte Graham and Miles Bridges, Ball was the only player over the last 60 years to lead all rookies in total points, rebounds, assists and steals at the All-Star break.
In February, Ball joined Stephen Curry (2010) and Jason Kidd (1995) as the only rookies with seven-plus threes and 10-plus assists in a game and was the youngest to do so. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double in January.
Through 41 games, Ball is averaging 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists this season in just 28.6 minutes per game. He would be the first player in NBA history to average 15/5/5 in less than 30 minutes per game in a season (minimum 40 games played), per Stats Perform.
When you compare his first 41 games to some of the past and current greats at the same stage, Ball ranks well.
His points-per-game average is better than five-time champion and Lakers great Kobe Bryant (7.0 in 1996-97), former MVP Harden (9.8 in 2009-10), Curry (13.4 in 2009-10), Steve Nash (4.5 in 1996-97) and Jason Kidd (9.4 in 1994-95).
When it comes to his assists numbers, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan (5.1 in 1984-85) – the owner of the Hornets – Nash (2.9), Dwyane Wade (4.3), Harden (2.1), Curry (4.6) and Kyrie Irving (5.7 in 2011-12) did not fare as good as Ball.
Highlighting his versatility, Ball's rebound average is better than Irving (3.8), Curry (3.8), Harden (3.2), Wade (4.4), Bryant (2.0), Nash (1.3), Kidd (5.7) and Allen Iversen (4.2 in 1996-97).