Many Hornets fans were in shock Thursday, as breaking news surfaced that Hornets starting SG may be out with a season-ending injury. A few hours later, we learned that the injury is less severe and Batum will likely be out for 6-8 weeks. As this is still a significant amount of time, let's take a look at what this means for the Charlotte Hornets.
Charlotte Hornets Shooting Guard Nic Batum will likely miss 6-12 weeks with a torn UCL in his left elbow. This comes as a major blow to a Charlotte Hornets team that was focused on making a deep playoff run this year. Batum tore this ligament during Wednesday's close win over Detroit but left the game in the first minute with this injury. Batum, who is scheduled to make $21 million this year, recently signed a five-year $120 million contract with the Hornets.
Before the injury, the depth chart for the Hornets was set, with the starter at SG being Batum, then Monk coming first off the bench, followed by SG/SF Jeremy Lamb for additional backup. Now the question arises: Will Monk remain the Sixth Man, or will he take over the starting position for the Hornets?
While both players were exceptional in the game against Detroit, Lamb is a sixth season veteran and Monk is a rookie and first-round pick. Monk seems like the obvious option for Charlotte as he is the main backup. However, Coach Clifford's mentality is to make the players earn their minutes, and does not often start rookies. Coach Clifford will have a tough task ahead of him, choosing whether to start Monk in the lineup or distribute the minutes more, allowing both to get a considerable amount of minutes.
The Likely Option: Malik Monk
The Hornets First-Round Pick out of Kentucky has been playing exceptionally well throughout the preseason so far and is definitely the front-runner for Batum's starting position while he is out. Monk recorded 19 Points, 2 Rebounds, and an assist in the Hornets' Win over Detroit on Wednesday.
While Monk was a standout player in his one season with Kentucky, it will still be a huge task starting for the Hornets at the SG position. Monk is known for his laser perimeter shooting and showed everyone that in college, recording just about 20 PPG.
The injury for Batum is terrible news for the Hornets, but there's a silver lining. For this one, Rookie SG Malik Monk will have the perfect opportunity to show the fans and coaches what he is capable of doing. Although nobody expected Monk to start for the Hornets, he will likely take over that job for at least the first 8 weeks, and he will have to prove that he is what he says he is.