Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

The Charlotte Hornets Success is Real

The Hornets success is real 20 games into the NBA season and the team looks poised to compete for the rest of the year.

“The Hornets stalled last season and have ground to make up before entertaining thoughts of being a playoff team.”

Sekou Smith of perfectly summed up the average thought when it came to basketball in Charlotte for 2015-2016. A year removed from the Lance Stephenson disaster, Charlotte lost all momentum last season. The team had no offensive firepower and encouraged nobody to predict them close to the playoff hunt. Yet 21 games in, Charlotte is 12-8 and has been playing good basketball. The Hornets have had somewhat of an easy schedule so far with 11 of their first 20 games against teams under .500, yet they are still 12-8 and have played top Eastern conference teams well. They took two out of three from Chicago, lost two games to Atlanta by a combined five points and lost to Cleveland by five. Is this team actually good enough to continue to contend?

To start, the Charlotte Hornets success can be attributed to a much better offense to showcase this year compared to last season. The team averaged 94.2 points per game last year, good for 28th in the league. This season the team is up to 102.4 points per game, good for 9th best in the league. While the team let go of Gerald Henderson (12.1 points per game) and Mo Williams (17.2 points per game in 27 games), the team added Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, and Jeremy Lin. The team currently has six double-digit scorers and is very balanced on offense. Led by Kemba Walker (17.4 points per game) and Batum (17.0 points per game), the offense is much more efficient. Batum is really having a good year since he was acquired from Portland, as he has also added 6.6 rebounds and 4.7 rebounds per game.

New additions Lamb and Lin are also providing good scoring in the second unit by scoring 12.3 and 10.5 points per game respectively. Charlotte had no double digit scorer off the bench last season for the majority of the season (when Mo Williams was acquired). Charlotte currently has the fewest turnovers in the league with 11.8 per game, a testament to their efficiency on the offensive end. Walker does most of the ball handling and he only turns the ball over twice a game. While the team didn’t turn the ball over a lot last year either (11.9 per game last season), having the fewest turnovers in the NBA is always a good thing.

Can Charlotte keep playing good basketball? They are about to hit a very tough stretch in their schedule. The team plays 11 out of their next 14 against teams currently .500, including tonight against Miami. They will continue with games against Los Angeles (Clippers), Toronto (twice), Memphis (twice), Oklahoma City and Golden State. Two out the three teams under .500 are Washington and a suddenly hot Houston team who will likely both be above .500 by the time the teams play. We will find out a lot about these Hornets between now and January 4th when they fly to Golden State.


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