Kemba Walker going down with a knee injury is a serious blow to the Hornets’ playoff chances, at least on the surface.
Walker’s been the team’s leading scorer this season with an 18.8 points per game average, and has often times carried more of his fair share of the burden while Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson have both missed time due to injuries.
Charlotte is currently sitting at eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, and could slide a bit while Walker is sidelined. But he may be able to return in as little as six weeks.
From a Hornets team release:
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker underwent successful surgery today to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. The procedure was completed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Walker’s recovery time is expected to be a minimum of six weeks.
Walker is the Hornets’ leader in points (18.8), assists (5.2) and steals (1.4). Walker averaged 23.0 points on .429 shooting from the field (171-399), including .355 from beyond the three-point line (43-121) over his last 21 games played. He scored at least 28 points in six straight games from Jan. 3-14, the longest streak of his career and the second-longest streak in the NBA this season behind only Russell Westbrook’s nine straight games from Dec. 12-26. Walker scored 20 or more points in 14 of his last 21 games played.
The good news for the Hornets is that the teams chasing them for that final playoff spot are in worse shape than they are. The Pistons are likely done now that Brandon Jennings has been lost for the season due to injury, and Brooklyn is dealing with injuries of its own, while the team is working toward trading one or more of its stars before the mid-February deadline passes.
As long as the Hornets can somewhat maintain while Walker is sidelined, there should be enough there with a fully healthy squad to make a late-season run that will solidify a postseason spot.