Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will not play tonight’s game against the Toronto Raptors due to a sore back, according to Steve Clifford. He also announced today that Roy Hibbert, injured since the Miami Heat game in October, will return to the active roster tonight.
Kidd-Gilchrist has yet to miss a game this season, but a sore back forced him to leave the Indiana Pacers game early. That same injury led to questions about his availability Wednesday, against the Utah Jazz, but he played the entirety of that one. This doesn’t appear to be a very serious injury, but it’s definitely a nagging one that will have to be watched closely for awhile.
Hibbert on the other hand has only played one full game this season, and that was the first game of the season. There hasn’t been much reported on why he was missing time other than it was a sore knee. With Kidd-Gilchrist being forced to miss tonight it’s good to see Hibbert make a return as his defensive presence around the rim is something the Hornets will need to make up for the loss of Kidd-Gilchrist.
There is yet to be any official word on who will start tonight in place of Kidd-Gilchrist, but early reports point towards Marco Belinelli.
The @hornets pre-game notes listing Marco Belinelli as the starter at small forward in place of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) November 11, 2016
With the Hornets facing so many injuries on the wing right now the Hornets aren’t given very many options of who to start at the wing spot other than Belinelli. There’s a possibility they give Treveon Graham a go, but considering he’s still a rookie it seems unlikely to see that role handed over to him so quickly. However, with Jeremy Lamb still injured don’t be surprised if Graham plays a lot of key minutes off the bench.
There are also some questions about who will start at Center tonight now that Hibbert will return. Opening night the starter was Hibbert, but with the amount of time he’s missed it’s very possible they continue to start Cody Zeller in his place until Hibbert is back into game shape.
It’s good to see Hibbert make a return tonight, but the loss of Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be very noticeable with DeMar DeRozan in town. So far this season DeRozan has only failed to score 30 points once, and Charlotte was really going to need Kidd-Gilchrist in order to slow him down. Without him the Hornets will need to look towards Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams in order to slow DeRozan down.