Charlotte’s road to climbing back in the playoffs in the East just got a lot bumpier.
Nicolas Batum — their solid wing defender and shooter who gave the Hornets 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists a game last season — is going to miss the first couple months of the season. Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke this news first.
Then the Hornets confirmed the news but tried to spin a shorter timeline. From their statement:
“Charlotte Hornets guard/forward Nicolas Batum underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam today which revealed a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. The injury occurred with 11:26 remaining in the first quarter of Charlotte’s preseason road contest against the Detroit Pistons last night. Treatment options are still being evaluated, but Batum is expected to miss a minimum of six to eight weeks.”
Notice that says a minimum of 6-8 weeks, which makes the 8-12 possible. That 8-12 week timeline would have Batum returning around Christmas or early in 2018, likely out for 20-30+ games.
With Batum out more will fall on rookie Malik Monk, which will be a setback for the Hornets’ defense.
Charlotte missed the playoffs last season and the defense was the reason. Dwight Howard was brought in to help turn that tide, but this injury is a real setback for the Hornets.