Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tore his labrum in the Charlotte Hornets first preseason game of the year. He was supposed to be out six months, and perhaps the entire season. This was a crushing blow to the team as a whole as Kidd-Gilchrist was their best defender and arguably their most important player.
However, the Hornets might be getting MKG back sooner than they were expecting. According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Kidd-Gilchrist is ahead of schedule, has been cleared for non-contact drills and could play a significant chunk of the season.
Significant and positive development in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's effort to get back on the court this season: https://t.co/nEU4MqjvNi— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) January 6, 2016
This is incredible news for the Hornets and their fans. Charlotte signed MKG to an extension over the summer, and it's obvious they expect him to be a big part of their future. When he's on the floor the Hornets are just a better team. Sure he had flaws on offense, but he anchored a top 10 defense last season with Al Jefferson as the rim protector. That's how good he was.
However the Hornets have managed to hang on quite well without him this season. They started off the season with one of the top offenses in the NBA, and their defense was slowly starting to catch up. Charlotte looked like a playoff team for much of November, and the early parts of December despite missing the defensive presence of MKG. It was possible they were going to withstand the blow. Unfortunately, things have taken a bad turn as of late. The offense is regressing to a level we haven't seen since last year, and injuries to key players like Al Jefferson and Nicolas Batum are beginning to take their toll.
Even so, despite these injuries, most fans expect Charlotte to be in the playoff race come February and March which is around the time Kidd-Gilchrist could be making a return. Considering how injured the team has been lately an unexpected return might sound like a great thing, but it's also a little worrisome.
Nobody knows MKG's body better than him and the Hornets doctors, but it's hard to not be concerned with the possibility that he and the team are rushing him back. They have a chance to be a highly seeded playoff team the year before a whole bunch of cap space is rolling in. Charlotte could make a huge splash this summer with a selling pitch of a playoff team with young stars to play next to in Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It would make sense to want MKG back as quickly as possible, but they need to do it the right way and play Kidd-Gilchrist when he's 100 percent ready. This is a player with an already lengthy injury history, and is quickly earning himself an injury prone tag. Rushing him back would only injure him again.
Of course, we really can't do anything right now besides trust the doctors, and hope that they're handling this properly. If Kidd-Gilchrist is back with the team by March then they'll just be that much better come playoff time.