Charlotte just got a lot more dangerous.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — a key starting wing who has been out all season with a torn right labrum that required surgery — has been cleared to play by team doctors. He will make his season debut Friday night against Portland, coming off the bench, the team announced.
MKG averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season, and, more importantly, was the team’s best defender — the Hornets were 7.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he was on the court.
This season Marvin Williams has started all 46 Hornets games in his place, averaging 9.6 points per game, adding a little punch shooting 35.7 percent from three, and the Hornets are +1.8 per 100 possessions when he is on the court. But Kidd-Gilchrist is an upgrade.
After a stumbling earlier this month and falling out of the playoffs in the East, Charlotte has won four of six and are now the nine seed, two games back of Indiana for the final playoff spot in the East. With Nicolas Batum and MKG together on the wing, maybe the Hornets can sustain that run and get back into the postseason.