The plan this preseason was Jeremy Lamb was ready for a bigger role with the Charlotte Hornets.
Thursday’s medical news portends a far greater role.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford told the Observer late Thursday afternoon he plans to move Lamb into the starting lineup, in reaction to shooting guard Nic Batum missing at least six weeks with a partial tear of a ligament in his left elbow.
The Hornets are investigating different treatments for Batum’s injury, which is not common for basketball players. Surgery is possible, though not a given.
Lamb, entering his sixth NBA season, had a particularly strong offseason, Clifford and his assistants noted in August. Over the first two preseason exhibitions, Lamb, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard-small forward, has averaged a team-high 17.5 points per game and has shot 58 percent from the field.
“For my first two games, I thought it was good,” said Lamb, who has started only 13 regular-season games in his previous NBA seasons – three with the Oklahoma City Thunder and two with the Hornets.
Lamb focused heavily on improving his defense in his summer workouts with associate head coach Stephen Silas.
“Last night he was really, really good at both ends of the floor,” Clifford said of Lamb in Detroit.
“He’s worked so hard, and not just for two months - steady work since he’s gotten here. The more he’s worked, and the more he sees how his hard work is paying dividends, he’s notched it up even more.
“You get confidence when you work at a good pace. And now it’s all paying off for him.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell