Bobcats forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be sidelined four-to-six weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his left hand during Charlotte's 89-82 road loss to Dallas on Tuesday. If Kidd-Gilchrist is out four weeks, he will miss Charlotte's next 13 games. If he sits for the full six weeks, he will be out of action for 20 games.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Kidd-Gilchrist was wearing a cast after the game, and that he apparently injured the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand while attempting a third-quarter drive. He departed with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter and did not return, finishing with six points (on 2-for-6 shooting) and three rebounds in 19 minutes.
“I looked down at my finger and it was (pointing) the wrong way,” said Kidd-Gilchrist, adding he isn’t sure just when or how he hurt himself.
“That’s a big hit,” [Bobcats coach Steve] Clifford said. “Foul trouble has limited his minutes some lately, but he’s been really good. ... If you watched him from the summer to now, there’s been a lot of progress since Vegas (summer league). He can be an elite defender in this league. He’s very bright.”
Kidd-Gilchrist, 20, is averaging 9.3 points and 5.4 rebounds this season while shooting 50.8 percent from the field. The No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft, Kidd-Gilchrist was selected to the 2013 All-Rookie Second Team last season and has started 18 games for Charlotte this season.
Held back on the offensive end by an atrocious shooting stroke and a lack of confidence in his range, Kidd-Gilchrist hasn't made a three-pointer this season, even though he's already played well over 400 minutes. Nearly two-thirds of Kidd-Gilchrist's shot attempts have come in the basket area, and that limited scope has been a major factor in Kidd-Gilchrist's 92.8 offensive rating, which is among the lowest posted by Bobcats rotation players this season. That's not exactly good company, given that Charlotte currently ranks No. 29 in offensive efficiency.
The other end, of course, is a different story. Kidd-Gilchrist was selected by Charlotte after a one-and-done season at Kentucky with the notion that he would evolve into an elite wing defender, and he grades out very nicely on that end so far this season, especially for a player his age. His 94.8 on-court defensive rating is significantly better than the Bobcats' 101.2 defensive rating when he's on the bench, and that mark is tops among Charlotte's rotation players. Clifford's Bobcats have been the surprise defensive team of the season so far this year, ranking in the top five in defensive efficiency after placing dead last in 2012-13, and Kidd-Gilchrist shares in the credit.
Clifford is expected to move reserve forward Jeff Taylor, a 2012 second-round pick, into the starting lineup in Kidd-Gilchrist's place, but Charlotte will undoubtedly be spread thin on the wing for the time being. Combo forward Anthony Tolliver could also help fill in the gaps, but Clifford will likely be tempted to lean more heavily on starting two guard Gerald Henderson and hope that Taylor proves capable of handling an expanded role. The defensive drop-off from Kidd-Gilchrist to Taylor is very real, though, and there just aren't any other great options, so this could turn into a "hang on for dear life" situation fairly quickly.
Three other prominent players have suffered broken hands over the last few days, and all are expected to be sideline for considerable periods: Pelicans forward Anthony Davis broke his left hand this week and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, Clippers guard J.J. Redick broke his right hand and is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks, and Nets forward Paul Pierce broke his right hand and is expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks.
Charlotte is 8-11 this season and in search of its first playoff berth since 2010.