There’s good and bad news concerning the latest injury to Nicolas Batum. He won’t play tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers after suffering an unlar nerve contusion against the Washington Wizards. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound as if he will be out long-term.
Batum tells the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell that “he’ll be fine” after participating in shootaround.
.@nicolas88batum will NOT play tonight, but he says he’ll be fine. No long-term concern and he participated in shootaround.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) November 24, 2017
A contusion is essentially a bruise, so as soon as it heals Batum should be good to go. Whether that’s by tomorrow depends entirely on how fast it heals.
It’s reassuring the injury isn’t severe, but, man, this is more bad luck for Batum, who was looking for a more productive season after struggling at times in 2016-17.
Jeremy Lamb will start in Batum’s place. Lamb is averaging 16.5 points per game this season, and is coming off one of his best games this season, scoring 24 points against the Wizards and making a number of clutch shots late in the game.
Who replaces Lamb in the second unit isn’t as clear. Malik Monk seems the likely choice, but he struggled in his past few games and was benched in favor of Michael Carter-Williams. Steve Clifford could opt to go with Treveon Graham, which should slide Dwayne Bacon to shooting guard and Graham at small forward. Clifford could also opt to shrink the rotation.
We’ll see tonight how the rotation shapes up, and how the Hornets perform without Batum. Regardless of the result, let’s hope Batum returns sooner than later.