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Nic Batum has torn UCL in left elbow

Queen City Hoops’ own Spencer Percy broke the news this afternoon that Hornets starting guard Nicolas Batum tore his UCL. The injury means he will be out for a significant amount of time, but there are conflicting reports as to just how long that will be.

Batum injured his left elbow one minute into Wednesday’s preseason game against the Detroit Pistons and did not return. Batum underwent an MRI today where the injury was revealed. This is the same ligament that requires Tommy John surgery in baseball. A torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament is a very rare injury in the NBA, and is frustrating for a team that had an exciting off-season and is looking to make some noise this season.

In the short run, this means Jeremy Lamb will get an opportunity to be a starter for Charlotte. Lamb has shown a lot of potential, particularly on the offensive end, in his time in Charlotte. His problem has always been consistency, particularly on the defensive end. Hopefully getting to start with his former U Conn teammate Kemba Walker will lead to a more reliable season. The injury will also mean increased playing time for veteran Treveon Graham, rookie Malik Monk, and possibly rookie Dwayne Bacon. Monk impressed Wednesday night with 19 points and he will get his shot sooner than maybe was expected. The team could also consider playing Marvin Williams at the small forward position, and going big by pairing Cody Zeller with new addition Dwight Howard.

Coach Clifford will have his work cut out for him juggling lineups with this injury. In addition to having one less wing player, it is important to note how valuable Batum is as a passer. He often times served as the main disturber for the second unit when Kemba was out of the game. The ball can not stick in the modern NBA and Charlotte is losing a valuable piece to their offense.

Long term, there is the concern on how long the injury will take to heal. Reports as of now are 8-12 weeks, but it’s best not to rush Batum back too early. The team is seeking a second opinion on whether or not to have Batum’s left elbow surgically repaired. Due to the fact that Batum isn’t an athlete that uses the overhand throwing motion, as is the case with athletes (baseball pitchers) that typically suffer the UCL tear, rehabbing the elbow is an option for Batum and the Hornets. One that they’re seriously considering and it would put Batum likely back on the court within the 8-12 week time frame. But it’s a risk.

Batum is an important player for this team, with a large contract to match. Losing him for any amount of time is a severe blow to the franchise, but rushing back and risking re-injury would be a mistake. General Manager Rich Cho has never been afraid to make a deal to improve the team so be on the lookout for possible future moves. Best wishes to Nic as he recovers and gets back to doing what he does best very soon. Remember to follow Queen City Hoops as we keep you updated on all things Hornets!