Preseason is here and excitement is in the air for the much awaited 2015-16 NBA season. One of the major downsides of the preseason, however, is the risk that players have of getting injured during these meaningless games. Such was the case last weekend when Charlotte Hornets' star and defensive anchor Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a dislocated shoulder in the Hornets preseason opener.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, MKG is going to miss the next six months and need surgery to repair that dislocated shoulder, more than likely keeping him out for the whole season. This is similar to the injury that Kevin Love sustained in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics that kept him out the rest of the playoffs and gave him a timetable of 4-6 months recover, according to Jeff Stotts of rotowire.com.
Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will need shoulder surgery and be sidelined six months, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 5, 2015
No matter how you feel about MKG's offensive abilities, there is no doubt that the heart and soul of the team is this guy. What he lacks for in skills, he more than makes up for in his work ethic and instincts. He has developed himself as one of the best cutters in the league, making up for his lack of spacing by cutting to the basket off the ball and sucking in defenders that way. Defensively, he is an absolute hell hound, guarding and locking down any position one through four. There really isn't any other player like him in the league, making him all that more important to the Hornets. MKG figured to be the starter on the wing next to newly acquired Nicolas Batum and has averaged around 26 minutes per game each year of his career. With how thin Charlotte might be on the wing this season, he may have gotten north of 30 minutes for this season.
Whether they like it or not, this is going to give us a sense of what this team is going to be like a lot sooner rather than later. With MKG out, that means that the group of Jeremy Lamb, P.J. Hairston, Troy Daniels, and maybe even Brian Roberts are going to have to find a way to pick up the slack. All of these guys were going to be fighting for minutes behind MKG and now they will all get their chance to prove that they should be a part of the rotation.
Each player has their question marks. Hairston is an interesting personality who hasn't been able to put together a consistent string of games. Troy Daniels has lit it up from three everywhere he has played, but hasn't been able to stick in one place for an extended period of time. Lamb hasn't delivered on his lottery pick potential and Roberts might be too small to play shooting guard full time. It also wouldn't be smart to count on some of the training camp invites such as Aaron Harrison, Sam Thompson, and Elliot Williams (although I will say Williams presents an intriguing option if he can prove himself worthy enough to make the roster).
All of these questions will have to be answered in MKG's absence. In the first game, Clifford subbed in Lamb for MKG first and followed that substitution later in the corner with Hairston for Batum. Both played the majority of the second quarter on the wing before Clifford went back to the starters. It was interesting to see him sub in Hairston for MKG once he got hurt, considering the fact that he subbed Lamb in first for the injured star. Lamb came out and started the second half with the rest of the starters and also finished the game in the end.
Lamb has been nice through two preseason games. He was +17 in 24.5 minutes against the Magic on Saturday, pouring in 16 points and four rebounds on 5-10 shooting, 2-4 from three. He has been known to be inconsistent however, which showed in the game against Miami Sunday night. Starting and playing 24.4 minutes in this game, Lamb shot an abysmal 2-11, 0-4 from three and scored just 8 points. Hairston hasn't looked any better, shooting just 25.0% from the field and 22.2% from three through two preseason games.
Preseason is never anything to get worked up about, but with the recent injury to MKG and the track record of guys like Lamb and Hairston, things don't look too bright for the immediate future of this Charlotte team. Having guys like Lamb and Hairston, who have the potential to get hot any given night, are nice to have at your disposal off the bench. When you have to count on those guys, like the Hornets will need to in MKG's absence, presents problems that they aren't equipped to fix.
Maybe Lamb and Hairston will emerge to produce some consistency at that position for Charlotte. That is definitely a possibility as well. The reality of it all is that we will be able to see really soon what type of team the Hornets are going to be this season.