When Michael Kidd-Gilchrist tore his labrum right before the season started, it seemed like it would severely hurt the Charlotte Hornets’ chances at making the playoffs. But thanks to Nicolas Batum’s resurgence and his chemistry with Kemba Walker, the Hornets sit at 19-22, just two and a half games behind the Boston Celtics for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, all with their best defensive player supposedly out for the year. But even better news is around the corner.
A couple of weeks ago, Kidd-Gilchrist promised that he would be back before season’s end, and the Hornets have just announced in a press release that he has been cleared for full-contact practices. It looks like MKG’s prediction will come true after all. Charlotte still hasn’t set a timetable for his return, and they’ll certainly play it safe with one of their best young players, but now the Hornets can think in weeks rather than months.
Before his shoulder injury, MKG still wasn’t anyone’s idea of a shooter, and his lack of offensive game could negatively impact the chemistry the Hornets’ starting unit has enjoyed. But he’s simply one of the best defenders and rebounders in the game at the small forward position, and his return will allow Charlotte to better suit head coach Steve Clifford’s defensive-minded style. And if he progresses well, he’ll be back in plenty of time to lead the charge to the playoffs.
Perhaps his convalescence freed him up to finally figure out that jumper.