Charlotte Hornets: 3 players who must step up in Gordon Hayward’s absence

Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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On Saturday, the Charlotte Hornets announced that forward Gordon Hayward would miss at least the next four weeks with a right foot sprain. Hayward injured his foot during the second quarter in Friday night’s win on the road against the Indiana Pacers.

At a minimum, Hayward will miss the next 14 games and could return for the last 10 games of the regular season. Hayward’s injury history has been a concern for fans and media since the Hornets signed him to a 4-year, $120 million contract this past offseason. Hayward has been relatively healthy this season having missed only four of the Hornets’ 48 games.

Hayward is having his best season since his last season with the Utah Jazz during the 2016-17 season. He is averaging 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists, shooting 47.3% from the field and 41.7% from the three-point line.

Charlotte enters Sunday’s matchup against the Boston Celtics with a record of 25-23, currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Hornets are on track to advance to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

The road to the playoffs now gets tougher with the absence of Hayward. Charlotte has suffered a rash of injuries lately. LaMelo Ball may miss the rest of the season with a broken wrist sustained on March 20 and Malik Monk is out for at least two weeks with a right ankle injury he sustained during Thursday night’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

When completely healthy, the Hornets have a limited number of scorers on the roster. The injuries to Ball, Hayward, and Monk wipe out three of those scorers.

The Hornets are a motivated and scrappy bunch, I expect them to stay in a lot of games but to snatch wins in this inevitable tough stretch, Charlotte will need some of their reserve players to step up to fill the void created by Hayward’s absence.