Season Preview: Charlotte Hornets

As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day ten’s release of a season preview ends up being the intriguing Charlotte Hornets. I will provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.

Charlotte Hornets:

Last Season’s Record: 33-49

Playoff Status: Missed playoffs

Last season was one of misery and disappointment for Hornet’s fans. The 2014 offseason brought great hope to Charlotte with the free agent signing of Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, and then rookies, forward Noah Vonleh and guard P.J. Hairston. Williams is about the only player, who was decent for the Hornets. He was signed to replace Josh McRoberts, who left for the Miami Heat, and going in, we all knew he had a different skill set, but the loss of McRoberts was huge. Hairston could never find his shot, shooting below 40% for the games he played in. Vonleh needed a ton of development, as his game was not NBA ready, and with just one season, Charlotte had enough and traded him this summer. The big name free agent acquisition of Stephenson was one of the biggest free agent flops in recent memory. Stephenson was brought in to shore up the perimeter defense, give depth at the shooting guard position, and finally be another shooter for the team. Instead, Stephenson’s attitude manifested into its own being causing his play to slip, and the players and coaches around him wanted him to leave. Management tried shopping him all season, but no one wanted him. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, the two stars for the franchise also dealt with injuries this year, causing the team’s play to slip. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did show improvement on his shot, although not from three point range. All of this caused for Charlotte to regress from the season before, leading to them missing the playoffs.

Charlotte had a top ten pick, which was desired by many teams. Boston offered multiple packages, but none were to the liking of Charlotte. Charlotte decided to stay put, and selected former Wisconsin center, Frank Kaminsky. This was a downright terrible selection for Charlotte. I am not saying Kaminsky is a bad player, but his limited upside, mixed with better players on the board, leaves a bad taste in your mouth. To make matters worse, Charlotte traded for Spencer Hawes, who is a stretch 4-5 as well. With Justise Winslow on the board and a need for an explosive perimeter player, who can score, Charlotte will regret this pick shortly. Charlotte did add Aaron Harrison, who will give them a unique scorer off the bench, if he can stay consistent and reliable. Overall, the draft did not yield any difference makers.

Free agency brought in quite a few new faces to the Hornets. In a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte acquired Jeremy Lamb, who has never lived up to the expectations when Oklahoma City traded James Harden for a package built around him. Lamb will help give depth to the shooting guard position, as well as provide perimeter offense for the second unit. As noted in the previous paragraph, Charlotte traded for Spencer Hawes, who was under performing after getting a new contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. With the addition of Hawes and Kaminsky, and the loss of Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte lacks any interior defensive presence. The final trade of the offseason for Charlotte was bringing in Nicolas Batum from the Portland Trailblazers. According to Steve Clifford, Batum will play a majority of his minutes at the power forward position, which should allow for Charlotte to stretch the floor even more, and give Jefferson the room he needs down-low to devastate opposing defenses. Charlotte had to part with Gerald Henderson, who after signing with Charlotte, was not fitting into their system, and then second year player, Noah Vonleh, who was just not able to develop as fast as Charlotte hoped for. Charlotte also added Jeremy Lin and Tyler Hansbrough to their roster via free agency. As of right now, Lin is penciled in as the current starting shooting guard. Lin has crafty abilities to score, and maybe with the spotlight off of him in Charlotte he will be able to find some former success, but until then do not expect much from him. Hansbrough was a good signing, as he brings some toughness to the forward position off the bench, but his lack of overall development on both ends makes him more of an energy player off the bench. Free agency brought in a bunch of unique players, and should improve the team overall, but we will see if they are the difference makers needed to make it back to the playoffs.

Charlotte is going to be an under the radar squad going into the 2015-2016 season. Although they might not have a superstar on the squad, they are lead by three very good players in, Walker, Batum, and Jefferson. Jefferson and Batum are both in contract years, and with both wanting to capitalize on the market, both players could be looking at big seasons. This will likely be Jefferson’s final contract of his career, therefore putting a lot of pressure on him to average at least 20 points per game and 10 rebounds to secure that one last big contract. Batum has never been looked at as a tremendous scorer, but his overall effort on both sides of the court and teamwork has made him a good player in the league. Batum will be leaned upon for more offense with Charlotte, therefore increasing his scoring totals, and as we have seen of recently, scoring gets you big deals in the offseason. After these three players the team is a mystery. We know Gilchrist will lock down the perimeter, and this offseason has seen a huge improvement in his shooting form, but we have to wait and see if that can translate to real game action. The bench is loaded with potential scorers, but none of them have had consistency as of late. Brian Roberts is a good back-up point guard, but last year he shot below 40%, Lamb can be very hot and cold, Hairston shot below 40%, Zeller is still developing, but not an offensive threat yet, while last season Hawes looked bored of basketball. Kaminsky has a shot at taking Hawes spot of back-up center, and we can only hope this happens in training camp. The biggest thing holding this team back is their lack of consistency. If this team meshes well together, they have the potential to be like last year’s Atlanta Hawks, maybe not record wise, but surprise people with making the playoffs, and being a very competitive team. Until this day though, Charlotte for this upcoming season should be seen as best as a competitor for the eight seed in the more competitive Eastern Conference, but more than likely will have another lottery selection for next offseason to work with.

By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17

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