Kemba Walker's ankle sprain suffered last night in the third quarter against the Miami Heat will force the young guard to miss time from the court for the first time in his NBA career.
The Bobcats announced today that Walker has a second-degree ankle sprain and is expected to miss 10 to 14 days. This places the estimated return date around January 29 (on the road against the Nuggets) to February 4 (on the road against the Warriors).
A second degree, or Grade II, sprain, Walker's injury is similar in severity to Al Jefferson's from preseason. The ligament along his ankle was partially torn or stretched but not completely torn, which would be a Grade III and require surgery. X-rays taken last night proved negative so there's no bone fracture, too.
Walker's injury has left the Bobcats decimated both in roster and emotionally for the moment.
"We lost the heart and soul of this team," Al Jefferson said.
And not only that, but they lost arguably their player that impacts the floor most. Walker had a bit of a slow start to the season but has since been one of the few consistently solid scoring threats on offense for Charlotte, scoring in double-figures in all but one game since November 18 before his injury last night.
Considering the offense regularly struggles to put the ball in the hoop, Charlotte's going to have a rough time having to replace his production by increasing Ramon Sessions' role to starting point guard and shaking the rust off Jannero Pargo and/or Ben Gordon's legs.
Sessions is great at getting to the rim and drawing fouls but doesn't do a whole lot else well this year. The disparity between his and Kemba's shooting won't do the Bobcats' floor spacing any favors, though.
The Bobcats' chase for the playoffs will also likely take a damaging blow, but I'm doubtful the East's lower seeds will suddenly become competent enough to flat out leave the fringe teams in the dust in 10 to 14 games.