Star player's injury update is terrible news for the Spurs

With Charlotte Hornets cornerstone LaMelo Ball declared out for the rest of the season, it sets up a close race with the San Antonio Spurs for draft lottery odds.

Charlotte Hornets v San Antonio Spurs
Charlotte Hornets v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

With the San Antonio Spurs being eliminated from playoff contention for a few weeks, it's been all eyes on the offseason, specifically the draft lottery. In what may be the most crucial offseason in memory for Brian Wright in the front office, there need to be some big moves in order to begin forming the best possible team around Victor Wembanyama.

One of the best ways to acquire young, high-potential talent is through the NBA draft, but we all know nothing is guaranteed, and luck must be on your side for the lottery balls to land in your favor. With the latest injury update for the Charlotte Hornets' star point guard, the odds may shift out of the Spurs' favor.

LaMelo Ball to miss the rest of the season with ankle injury

It was announced this morning by Shams that Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball will miss the rest of the season while he recovers from an ankle injury he suffered in January. Ball was the Hornets' cornerstone this season, averaging a career-high 23.9 points in his shortened 22-game season.

What does this mean for the Spurs, though? San Antonio sits at the bottom of the league with the third-worst record, only above the Detroit Pistons (12-61) and the Washington Wizards (14-59), and the Hornets only have one more win (18-54) than the Spurs. (17-56).

It is now a neck-and-neck race to the end of the season, and sometimes you begin to see teams intentionally losing to benefit their odds in the draft lottery. The Spurs are in a three-way tie with Detroit and Washington for the top odds to land the number one overall pick in the 2024 NBA draft at 14%.

Based on this graph, Charlotte is in the Spurs' rearview mirror, with the odds of landing the first pick at 12.5%. With both of these teams having nothing to play for but lottery odds, it could be possible that Charlotte begins to rest some of their other significant players like Brandon Miller, Miles Bridges, and Tre Mann in an effort to jump the Spurs in the race and propel their odds to the maximum of 14%.

San Antonio has nine games remaining, with their opponents' average win percentage of .541, and the Hornets have ten games remaining, with an average win percentage of .593. It is safe to say it will be no easy task to pick up wins in the closing stretch, which will benefit both teams' odds in the lottery.

The Spurs have to play a game of chess while many across the league play checkers. After picking up back-to-back wins over the Suns and Jazz, you have to wonder how much winning would benefit this team, which has nothing left to play for. Winning more games down the stretch may increase the attractiveness of San Antonio to potential free agents in the offseason but that possibility has to be balanced with an attempt to get the best draft position available.