Nic Batum has yet to play a regular-season game this season, but Sunday his Charlotte Hornets teammates got a long look at what they’ve missed.
For the first time since tearing a ligament in his left elbow Oct. 4, Batum went full-court 5-on-5 scrimmage in practice. All went well, and if there is no setback, shooting guard Batum should play in Wednesday’s nationally televised home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“There were a lot of smiles out there, to see him back in a uniform,” forward Marvin Williams said. “I bet he got an assist to everybody he played with today. There were a couple of times when he hit me wide-open and I wasn’t expecting the ball.
“He kind of whispered to me on the way back (up the court), ‘Have your antenna out.’”
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Batum is a key element in the Hornets’ ball-movement. Last season he averaged 15.1 points, 5.9 assists and 6.2 rebounds. He takes some playmaking responsibility off point guard Kemba Walker.
The bigger test for Batum’s elbow will come at Monday’s practice. Coach Steve Clifford plans to scrimmage at least a quarter (12 or more minutes), with referees.
If Batum plays Wednesday, he would be back at the minimum of the six to eight weeks the team projected as his recovery time, once a Dallas specialist confirmed surgery wasn’t necessary. Batum practiced with tape wrapped around his left arm Sunday, and said that’s how his arm would be protected once he starts playing.
Clifford commended Batum for his conditioning while not playing, but Batum was reminded Sunday nothing replicates game shape.
“The first five minutes were pretty good, and then I thought, ‘Ah,’ and was catching my breath,” Batum said.
Batum has thought a lot about what he can add, particularly in feeding new teammate Dwight Howard.
“That’s the guy I watch the most during the games. I’ve played with the other (core) guys for two years,” Batum said. “I only played half a (preseason) game with Dwight, so I’m trying to get to know him more on the court.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell