The Charlotte Hornets had a productive draft in June, acquiring first-rounder Malik Monk and second-rounder Dwayne Bacon.
Point guard Kemba Walker had a message for those two rookies Friday, in reaction to the serious elbow injury Nic Batum has suffered.
“That rookie stuff goes out the window at this point,’ said Walker, the Hornets’ leading scorer and a captain.
Shooting guard Monk, drafted 11th overall, was already in the preseason rotation and has shown the same knack for scoring in multiple ways that he did as a Kentucky freshman last season. Small forward Bacon (the 40th pick) didn’t play much in the first two preseason exhibitions, but the Hornets might need him with Batum and small forward Treveon Graham (hamstring) both out.
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Batum suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow against the Detroit Pistons Wednesday. The Hornets say he’s out a minimum of six to eight weeks, and that could be three months or more if he elects to have surgery.
In Batum’s absence, Hornets coach Steve Clifford plans to start Jeremy Lamb. Walker played with Lamb for one season at Connecticut, when the Huskies won the national championship in 2011. The Hornets coaches have praised Lamb for his work in the offseason.
“Things have definitely changed: You can see how much he’s grown, not only basketball-wise, but mentally as well, which is really important,” Walker said of Lamb. “We see how differently he’s acting – how he approaches practice. He’s ready. I’m excited for him.”
Clifford said he doesn’t want the rookies pressing to do things beyond their skills and experience.
“I don’t think they have to play differently,” Clifford said. “Basketball is so much about knowing your strengths, and playing to those strengths.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell