Charlotte Hornets: Cody Zeller probable to return after missing 16 games

Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Charlotte Hornets are listing starting center Cody Zeller as probable to play ahead of tomorrow’s match-up with the LA Clippers.

On the last day of 2018, the Charlotte Hornets went up against the Orlando Magic. The Hornets got a 25-point victory, but suffered a big loss in the process, losing starting center Cody Zeller to a fractured hand.

Now, 16 games later, Zeller is fully recovered and ready to play for the Hornets. This is big news. Zeller isn’t a flashy player, but he is effective and is a big part of what the Hornets do both offensively and defensively.

Since Zeller suffered the injury, the Hornets have gotten some really solid production from guys like Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez. Biyombo has averaged 6.6 and 7.2 rebounds with Zeller out, while Hernangomez has averaged 7.6 points and 6.6 rebounds.

The Hornets have a record of 8-8 without Zeller. Not bad, considering the team lost five of the first six games without him. When healthy, the big man is averaging 9.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 24.5 minutes for Charlotte this season.

Injuries have hurt Zeller and the Hornets over the past few seasons, so getting Zeller back now and keeping him healthy will be key. He gives the Hornets a big body on the inside and the ability occasionally stretch the floor and hit an open three-pointer.

Last season, Zeller tore the meniscus in his left knee and was only able to play in 33 games, coming off the bench in all of those games.

Zeller could be on a minute restriction, considering he missed 16 games of action. It’s going to take him some time to get adjusted to the game and shake off the rust. The team has five games left before the All-Star break.

With Zeller returning to the lineup, I would expect either Biyombo or Hernangomez to lose a spot in the rotation. Biyombo was out of the rotation for the most part before Zeller got hurt, but his strong play over the last few weeks could keep him in the rotation permanently.

Biyombo is a much better defensive player compared to Hernangomez, but Hernangomez is a much better offensive player. They both hit the glass well and will provide solid production off of the bench regardless.

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It will be interesting to see how Coach Borrego handles his rotation with his team back at full strength. Each game is important for the Charlotte Hornets, so they’ve got to be relieved to have Zeller back in the mix.

The Charlotte Hornets take on the LA Clippers tomorrow night at 7:00 PM ET.