Injuries have been in no short supply this NBA season, with the latest claiming a member of the Bobcats' rotation. Sophomore forward Jeffery Taylor, who had been starting for Charlotte in place of the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The injury was first reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, and later confirmed by the team.
Taylor is a mere role player, but an important one at a position of relative weakness for Charlotte. He had ranked fourth on the team in minutes played for that very reason, as his defensive contributions and the Bobcats' general lack of alternatives on the wing offered a prime opportunity. With his injury, though, comes a bit of a puzzle for first-year head coach Steve Clifford; Taylor's season-long absence and Kidd-Gilchrist's ongoing recovery (he's slated for a January return after breaking a bone in his left hand) leave the Bobcats' cupboard unspeakably bare, with Anthony Tolliver and recent D-League call-up Chris Douglas-Roberts as the most conventional small forward options available.
Tolliver will get the start for Charlotte, though Clifford could (and may be forced to) play Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon, and Ramon Sessions out of position on the wing to compensate if necessary. As one might surmise from that uninspiring collection of talent, there are no palatable options immediately available for the Bobcats -- especially in terms of maintaining Charlotte's quality perimeter defense at a level that would maintain their near-.500 record. Taylor has been a capable contributor in that regard, and in his season and change as a pro has done a credible job of using length and technique to shade opposing perimeter scorers. Things get a bit more complicated from this point on, though, as Taylor -- who isn't the quickest lateral defender to begin with -- will now face a long, uphill rehabilitation before dealing with the long-term effects of Achilles damage. As has been made all too clear in the exhaustive analysis of Kobe Bryant's Achilles tear, those who have suffered serious injury to that particular tendon are almost never the same. They often lose their ability to explode upwards or outwards, and in even the best cases return to lesser mobility. Taylor has the relative advantage of suffering such an injury at a mere 24 years old, though he's also in the final guaranteed year of his current contract and thus faces an added layer of uncertainty.