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LaMelo Ball could make return to Hornets Wednesday vs. Pistons

Minnesota Timberwolves v Charlotte Hornets

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 25: LaMelo Ball #1 of the Charlotte Hornets dribbles on the court before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Spectrum Center on November 25, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

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A Grade 2 left ankle sprain kept LaMelo Ball out of most of the preseason and then the Hornets’ first 13 games of the regular season. He finally got healthy, then in his third game back he was chasing a loose ball going out of bounds, stepped on a fan’s foot, and re-sprained the same ankle. He has missed another 11 games.

Wednesday night, Ball could make his return to the Hornets lineup, according to multiple reports.

Officially, the Hornets have upgraded Ball from “out” to “questionable” and he is going to test the ankle in a warmup pregame, then make his decision. However, in the modern NBA “questionable” often feels like the new “probable” for players pushing to return from injury.

Ball averaged 20.1 points, 7.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds a game while shooting 38.9% from 3 last season on his way to his first All-Star appearance. He picked up this season averaging 19.3 points and 7 assists a game, but that is in just three games and limited minutes.

Charlotte, 7-20, sits well out of the playoff picture in the East and has the 30th-ranked offense in the NBA. While Ball will help with that, how far he can bring this roster back — and how hard the Hornets want to push up the standings heading into a deep and very talented draft — remains to be seen.