Charlotte Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum appears close to returning slightly ahead of schedule from a torn elbow ligament.

Batum, who was slated to miss six-to-eight weeks when the injury was diagnosed early last month, scrimmaged with the Hornets on Sunday and Monday, and the plan is for him to play his first game of the season Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

That's welcome news for the 5-7 Hornets, who've lost four straight games and are in desperate need of some secondary playmaking. They rank 20th in the NBA in offensive efficiency and 27th in assist ratio, after ranking 14th and eighth last season, respectively. When Kemba Walker sits, they're scoring a comically paltry 84.7 points per 100 possessions, and getting outscored by 24 points per 100.

Batum's plus shooting and plus-plus passing will be a major boon. He averaged 15.1 points and 5.9 assists last season, while ranking third on the team in usage rate.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford expects Batum's return to benefit everyone else on the roster.

"He has such a feel for the game. He's easy to play with," Clifford said, according to Bonnell. "You have to learn where they want the ball and what their strengths are. That's one of his strengths: He plays for his teammates."

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