Key Matchup vs. Golden State Warriors: Nicolas Batum vs. Klay Thompson
A Golden State Warriors team missing its leading scorer in Steph Curry will still present quite a challenge for the hometown Charlotte Hornets when the two sides collide on Wednesday night.
The Hornets are beginning to see more and more of the old Nicolas Batum lately following a preseason left elbow injury that sidelined him for six weeks. The 10th-year veteran is putting up 11.3 points, 5.7 rebounds (season-high 11 boards vs. Orlando on Dec. 4), 5.0 assists and a defensive rating of 100.5 (tied for team high; mini. 3 GP) over his last three outings for Charlotte.
With the two-time NBA MVP Curry not making his yearly hometown appearance (ankle), look for Klay Thompson to get a boost in Golden State’s offense. The two-time All-NBA honoree is already averaging 20.5 points while putting up career-high marks in rebounding (4.2), field-goal percentage (50.5 percent) and three-point percentage (47.0 percent; ranked sixth in the NBA) this season for the Warriors.
Thompson is easily one of the NBA’s most gifted three-point shooters and will be Golden State’s primary long-distance threat with Curry out of the lineup. Batum will need to use his length, craftiness and versatility on both ends of the floor to try and neutralize Thompson’s overall two-way impact as much as possible.