Devastating news for the NBA playoff-hopeful Charlotte Hornets as previous NBA Rookie of the Year betting favorite LaMelo Ball likely will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right wrist suffered after a hard fall Saturday night. Ball, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, actually returned to that game in L.A. vs. the Clippers but an MRI on Sunday revealed the fracture. That has caused a major shift on the Rookie of the Year odds as well as with Charlotte's chances of making the playoffs – although the SportsLine Projection Model still likes the Hornets' chances reasonably well.
If the draft was held again today, Ball would likely go No. 1 overall to Minnesota. He's averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds this season. On a per-36-minute basis, the 19-year-old was averaging 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists. The only other rookie to put up those numbers was future Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson in 1960-61 (25.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 8.2 apg). The Big O did win Rookie of the Year.
The most recent odds at William Hill Sportsbook had Ball as the -500 favorite to become the first Charlotte player since Emeka Okafor in 2004-05 (team was called Bobcats then) to win top rookie. The Timberwolves' Anthony Edwards, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, was next at +325 and then there was a deep drop-off. While William Hill has yet to repost its Rookie of the Year odds, looking at a few other sites and Edwards is now generally the -175 favorite with Ball around +150.
Edwards started the season a bit slowly but has really come on of late as he's averaging 27.3 points since the All-Star break and his season averages are up to 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Last Thursday, he had 42 points in an upset of the Suns to become the third-youngest player in NBA history with a 40-point game behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
But back to Ball. The Hornets have been a pleasant surprise at 20-21 and hold the final playoff spot in the East but are just a game up on Indiana and Chicago – remember, there is the play-in tournament now where the seventh- and eighth-place teams in each conference face off as do the ninth and 10th. The winner of the 7-8 game is in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed, while the loser would play the 9-10 winner – and the 9-10 victor would have to beat the 8-9 loser twice to get in, while the 8-9 team needs to win just once.
The SportsLine Projection Model forecasted Charlotte for 34.8 wins in the shortened 72-game regular season with Ball but down to 34.3 without. The Hornets' chances of making the playoffs dropped from 43.7 percent to 40.2 percent. Oddswise, the Hornets are +185 to make the playoffs and -230 to miss.
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