LaMelo Ball Rolls Already Gimpy Ankle On Fan’s Foot; The Hornets Should Slow-Play This And Tank For Victor Wembanyama

LaMelo Ball will miss more time after spraining his ankle ankle for a second time in a 125-113 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. The Charlotte Hornets should slow-play this Ball injury and tank for presumed 2023 No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama.

Yes, it’s sacrilegious to tank, but organizations do it all the time. Head coach Steve Clifford and the players who actually step on the floor will compete and play hard. But general manager Mitch Kupchak can do things to make sure the talent available is such that losing will happen.

Ball already missed 13 of the team’s first 16 games this year after spraining the same left ankle during the preseason.

The Hornets are 4-12, ranked 28th in aNET rating, 28th in aORTG, and 18th aDRTG. They are already without their leading scorer from last season, Miles Bridges, who is out indefinitely after pleading no contest to domestic assault charges.

This team as presently constructed isn’t good. If everything works well, maybe they can be a play-in team. Maybe they can win their way into the playoffs. Their reward will be a first-round date with the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks. The Hornets will get demolished by either squad.

There is value for a young team in winning and making the playoffs. Building a culture of success matters, and a tanking culture is hard to shake.

During Michael Jordan’s tenure as owner of the Charlotte franchise the team’s combined record is 362-497. In 11 seasons they’ve made the playoffs twice and have finished below .500 eight times.

That’s putrid.

Jordan and the Hornets need a “can’t miss” prospect that they almost assuredly can’t screw up. I say almost because nothing is a certainty.

Wembanyama is a 7-foot-4 rim protector with Stephen Curry shooting range.

Of course Jordan and the Hornets would have to pick Wembanyama if they were in the position to do so. You could see a scenario where the Hornets secure the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery and the stories come out that there is debate internally about who the team should pick.

“I’m gonna tell you something that’s been going on in my life, like for my whole life, since I’ve been a kid, even before I played basketball,” Wembanyama said to The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I’ve always tried to do (something) different. I’m not even talking about sports, whatever. Any field, I’m always trying to be original, something original, something one of one, something that’s never been done before. And this is really how it worked in my life. I don’t know where it comes from. I think I was born with it. I’ve always been trying to be original. Unique, that’s the word. My goal is to be like something you’ve never seen.”

We’re a long way away from the 2023 NBA draft. But the Hornets need a jolt to turn around this disaster franchise. Jordan has been a horrendous owner, but it doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as it should.

The team doesn’t seem to be headed in any direction, and that’s a reflection of leadership, and that starts at the top.

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