The Charlotte Hornets are getting ready to take the floor in the Frost Bank Center in a battle between the top two draft picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. As if it weren't bad enough that the NBA decided to remove this game from national television, the San Antonio Spurs will be receiving news that their task to deliver a win just got tougher.
The last time LaMelo Ball played basketball was November 26th against the Orlando Magic. It was during that game that Ball injured his ankle and has been rehabbing ever since. The timing couldn't be worse for San Antonio, who is trying to get back-to-back wins for the first time since defeating the Suns in consecutive contests back in October and November.
LaMelo Ball's versatility will challenge the Spurs new defensive energy
Ball is a special player with elite vision, averaging 8 assists per game and a reliable three-point shot, hitting 39% from distance. He is the ultimate floor general. Everything goes through him as the engine of the Hornets' offense.
At 6'7, he presents a unique challenge to defend, forcing mismatches all over the court as teams try to guard him with size, usually by assigning wings to the challenge. Charlotte will likely send Terry Rozier, who has been starting in Ball's absence, to the bench. That ensures all of their starters have a height of at least 6'7 across the board.
The Spurs defense has been better since inserting Tre Jones into the starting lineup but Jones is 6'1 and any strategy the Spurs employ will be a challenge with that kind of size disadvantage as a factor. San Antonio still has one clear advantage, Victor Wembanyama, and they will need him to continue to elevate his play. If the Spurs are, once again, able to lean on Devin Vassell and Wemby, they may be able to hold off an athletic Charlotte Hornets team.