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Gordon Hayward Injury Could Mean Expanded Role for LaMelo Ball

The Charlotte Hornets’ newest offseason acquisition isn’t off to a hot start. A Gordon Hayward injury was the latest announcement from the team, after he suffered an avulsion fracture on his fifth finger on his right hand. He is currently slated to miss Thursday’s preseason game against the Orlando Magic and will be listed as day-to-day going forward.

The Hornets received Hayward in a sign-and-trade from the Boston Celtics this offseason. Hayward, who is 30, signed a four-year, $120 million deal.

Gordon Hayward Injury
Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Gordon Hayward Injury Issues

The former Butler and Utah Jazz star has had problems with injuries recently. In 2017, he suffered a gruesome leg injury during the first game of the season, which saw him miss the entire year. This injury came on the heels of a max contract from the Celtics.

Ever since the injury, Hayward hasn’t looked like the All-Star he once was. With a disappointing performance in Boston, Hayward is looking to lead a very young Hornets team.

Role Players Must Step Up

If Hayward misses regular season time, the Hornets first-round pick LaMelo Ball will be pushed into a leading role. Ball is very capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry. However, he may see a lot of defensive attention, as he should be among their leading scorers. Depending on how much time Hayward misses, Ball’s early development may be slow due to the huge role he has on the team.

Devonte Graham, who was in the running for Most Improved Player of the Year last season, will have to step into a major scoring role again. Role players like Miles Bridges, Malik Monk and PJ Washington will need to play well and under control without a veteran presence in the locker room.

If the Hornets want to start the season on the right note, the role players will need to help take the burden off of Ball and play team basketball. The Hornets are an interesting, young team that must create an identity for themselves with Hayward out.

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