Key Matchup vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Nicolas Batum vs. C.J. McCollum
A pair of former teammates will square off on Saturday night when the Charlotte Hornets welcome the visiting Portland Trail Blazers to Spectrum Center.
Tenth-year veteran Nicolas Batum is still looking to regain his form following a preseason left elbow injury that sidelined him for six weeks. Despite the relative rustiness, the Frenchman is currently one of just 12 NBA guards averaging at least 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the month of December.
Batum, who spent his first seven NBA seasons with Portland, will get a chance to take on his former-understudy in shooting guard C.J. McCollum. The former Lehigh Mountain Hawk is putting up 24.3 points on 50.7 percent shooting, 2.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his last four outings, one year after winning the NBA’s free-throw percentage title (career-high 91.2 percent).
McCollum has increased his pull-up frequency this season (47.5 percent to 53.3), causing his attempts from within 10 feet to predictably see a reduction (30.6 percent to 26.1). The fifth-year veteran seems to be showcasing more offensive versatility now, a factor Batum and the rest of the Charlotte wings will need to be wary of.