Reports came out Thursday that said Charlotte Hornets forward Nic Batum will miss at least six weeks with a left elbow injury.
The Charlotte Hornets confirmed on Thursday that forward Nic Batum would be sidelined for at least six to eight weeks after an MRI revealed a torn UCL in his left elbow. Batum left Wednesday’s preseason game against the Detroit Pistons within the first minute of action.
The 28-year-old Frenchman was going to be invaluable to the Hornets this season as they look to bounce back from a miserable 2016-17. Charlotte floundered during after starting strong and finished just 36-46. Batum, however, was one of the bright spots. His versatility on the wing is crucial to the Hornets’ success, and there are few things he can’t do when he’s on the court.
Batum averaged 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 77 games last year. He was one of four players who stand 6-6 or taller with at least 15, six and five, respectively — LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the other three. It was one of Batum’s most productive seasons, and he had signed a five-year, $120 million deal heading into it.
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Charlotte relied on him heavily as a secondary ball handler, and that opened up their options with Kemba Walker. Without Batum, rookie Malik Monk is going to have to step up and assume that role; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will also have a more extensive minute allocation.
This injury is a crushing blow for an optimistic team. Even though the Eastern Conference is weak, Charlotte is a franchise that can go either way. Unlike some others, they aren’t a lock to make the postseason and Batum was going to huge in getting them there. However, fans shouldn’t lose hope. If everything checks out, and he returns in two months, that puts us in December. Charlotte would have time to regroup and put together a run that could sneak them into the postseason.
The silver lining is that Monk is going to have a more significant role. Through two preseason games, he’s averaging 12.0 points in 19.4 minutes and shooting 38.5 percent from three. After spending last season at Kentucky playing off of De’Aaron Fox, Monk can handle the ball and could serve the same role as Batum. The only question is how efficiently he’ll run it.
It’ll also be interesting to see how Batum plays once he returns. He’s right-handed, and the tear is in his left elbow, which prompted a tweet re-assuring fans that Charlotte is going to be just fine because of their “deep roster.”
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