The Charlotte Hornets are in the dreaded stagnation phase of their long rebuild. They are not quite good enough to make the playoffs, they only have two three playoff appearances since 2004-2005 and have never won a series, but not quite bad enough to get a high lottery pick. They have a star point guard in Kemba Walker and not much else, this could be the season that the Charlotte Hornets blow everything up and do a complete rebuild.
Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Charlotte Hornets Season Preview
2017-18 Record: 36-46 (10th in the Eastern Conference)
What Worked Last Season
Well, in short, not too much went well for Charlotte last season. Kemba Walker made the All-Star team and dazzled fans with incredible displays of dribbling and shooting; Dwight Howard put up some solid numbers and showed he was an above average center in the league. Unfortunately, a number of their young players failed to improve and seem to have plateaued. Jeremy Lamb, Marvin Williams, and Frank Kaminsky are three players who are capable of playing multiple positions and can stretch the floor for the diminutive Walker. This was evident as Charlotte was a top ten team from behind the arc, shooting 37% from three. They did have two young players who showed flashes of being good NBA players in Dwayne Bacon and Malik Monk who will be looking to take another step forward in 2018-2019.
What Needs Improvement
Practically, the Hornets should have some pieces that are influential NBA players, but in principle, it is a disaster. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is who he is, a very good wing player. Cody Zeller is a backup center and nothing more, while Nicolas Batum is a very talented player whose career has been hampered by injuries. When Batum signed for Charlotte a few seasons ago, he was supposed to be the complimentary player besides Kemba Walker. A guy who can guard up to four positions and create for himself and others. Unfortunately, because of injuries, he has averaged 12 points per game over his career and last season his points per game dropped to 11, his lowest total since joining Charlotte.
The Hornets are desperate for another player to emerge and be the Robin to Kemba Walker’s Batman. Walker averaged 22 points per game last year, followed by Dwight Howard who is now in Washington, after that the closes player was Jeremy Lamb at 13 points per game. Charlotte seems to have seven or eight players who are capable of scoring 10 points, but no one who can come close to averaging 20. Until they find a complimentary scorer, the Charlotte Hornets are going to be stuck in purgatory.
Unfortunately, Charlotte probably got worse on paper this season. They got rid of Dwight Howard, a rebounding big who is a terror as a role man. And who did they replace his 16 points and 12.5 rebounds with? Bismack Biyombo. The only other notable addition is their first round draft pick from Michigan State, Miles Bridges. Bridges is a super-athletic, small forward who has the physique to play some power forward. Bridges could potentially become a very solid two-way player; the type of player Charlotte Hornets fans wish Michael Kidd-Gilchrist became.
2018-19 Season Prediction
On the back of Kemba Walker, this team will once again finish somewhere around the 10th spot in the eastern conference. If he somehow comes back to earth, then this team could challenge the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic for the worst team in the eastern conference. The only question is, how long does Charlotte wait before trading their All-Star. Do they wait to see if Monk, Bacon and Bridges grow into a solid core? Does the acquisition of Willy Hernangomez change their offensive scheme? There are so many question marks with this team, the only thing you can be sure of is that they will not be very good.
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