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NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Charlotte Hornets: Buzzing at the Hive

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Oct 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) smiles during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Hornets won 108-104 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) smiles during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Hornets won 108-104 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Oct 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) smiles during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Hornets won 108-104 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) smiles during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Hornets won 108-104 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) smiles during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Hornets won 108-104 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Charlotte Hornets

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents. Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profile:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at the Southeast Division Charlotte Hornets who retained key assets Batum and Williams this summer, but lost copious other free agents. With the return of a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can he and Kemba Walker find that perfect offensive-defensive balance to climb even higher in the East.

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview: Charlotte Hornets

 

2015-16 Record: 48-34

Playoffs:

Lost NBA Eastern Conference First Round (3-4) versus Miami Heat

Points Per Game: 103.4 (11th )

Dec 21, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (7) drives the ball during the fourth quarter as Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) defends at Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Hornets 102-95. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent Points Per Game:  100.7 (9th)

Pace: 95.7 (17th )

Offensive Rank: 107.1 (9th)

Defensive Rank:  104.3 (8th)

Three Point Rank:  36.2% (8th)

Rebounds: 43.9  (14th)

Assists: 21.7 (19th)

Steals: 7.3 ( 22nd)

Blocks: 5.3 (12th)

Turnovers: 12.6 (1st)

Next: Future postioning - draft, free agents

Oct 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) blocks the shot of Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) in the first half at the Spectrum Center Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted:

  • Aaron Harrison
  • Cody Zeller

Unrestricted:

Oct 26, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Roy Hibbert (55) keeps the ball away from Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Roy Hibbert
  • Brian Roberts
  • Spencer Hawes (P)

All free agent updates confirmed via Basketball Reference and Sportrak

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2018 second round draft pick from Cleveland or Brooklyn (less favorable)

Outgoing:

  • 2018 second round draft pick to Memphis

Average Age of Team: 26.4 years (as per Real GM)

Next: Off Season Moves

Oct 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Marco Belinelli (21) stands on the court in the second half against the Boston Celtics at the Spectrum Center. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Hornets gave up their 22nd draft pick in a trade to Kings  for the rights to freshman guard Malachi Richardson, in exchange for Marco Belinelli

2016 Free Agents

Unrestricted:

Restricted:

  • Troy Daniels
  • Jorge Gutierrez

Following Free Agency start:

Incoming:

Marco Belinelli

(trade)

Feb 19, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Marvin Williams (2) is congratulated by guard Nicolas Batum (5) after scoring during the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Charlotte won 98-95. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

  • Roy Hibbert 1-year, $5M
  • Ramon Sessions 2-years, $12.5M
  • Brian Roberts 1 year minimum contract exits Portland
  • Christian Wood on a 2-year minimum
  • Treveon Graham and Mike Tobey to 2-year minimum deals ($1.4M) with $75k guaranteed in training camp invites.
  • Exiting: 

    Re-upping:

    Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

    Oct 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Charlotte Hornets center Frank Kaminsky III (44) looks on during the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    Vegas over-under for wins: 39.5

    Schedule strength:

    As ranked by ESPN: 17th with 1.31 extra wins

    The Hornets have a league-low 11 games with a rest advantage. Every other team has at least 15.

    Games versus Rockets:

    • Tuesday January  10 at Toyota Center in Houston, TX at 7PM CT/8PM ET
    • Thursday February 09 at Time Warner Cable Arena, in Charlotte, NC at 6PM CT/7PM ET

    Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 24th

    As much as they moved away from him, Charlotte might miss Al Jefferson’s McHaleian footwork. They don’t really have anyone who gets buckets one-on-one, and they leaned on Big Al to torture Hassan Whiteside during long stretches of their first-round series against Miami.

    Good thing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back to inject anarchy. Steve Clifford has given Kidd-Gilchrist carte blanche to crash the offensive glass, and holy hell does MKG crash into everything. He is a bigger Tony Allen on defense; no one runs back harder, to the point that MKG’s footsteps unnerve ball-handlers who assume everyone has given up stopping their 1-on-0 fast break.

    Next: Team Overview

    Oct 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) stands on the court against the Boston Celtics at the Spectrum Center. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Committed Salary

    2016: $99,702,366 – 15th ranked

    2017: $83,983,617– 12th ranked

    Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

    Starting 5:

    Point Guard: Kemba Walker – 20.9 points,  5.2 apg 4.4 rebounds

    Shooting Guard: Nic Batum – 14.9 points,  5.8 assists,  6.1 rebounds (of note Batum has the size to play SF or PF, but Hornets utilize him at the SG giving them an edge due to his height)

    Small Forward: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – 12.7 points, 1.3 assists,  6.4 rebounds

    Power Forward: Marvin Williams – 11.7 points, 1.0 assists, 6.4rebounds

    Center: Roy Hibbert – 5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks

    Reserves:

    Guards: Ramon Sessions, Brian Roberts

    Wings: Jeremy Lamb, Marco Belinelli, Treveon Graham, Aaron Harrison

    Bigs: Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, Spencer Hawes, Christian Wood

    Injury News:

    • Jeremy Lamb – hamstring, targeting mid November
    • Roy Hibbert – knee, day to day

    All injury news as per rotoworld

    Next: Strengths, Weaknesses, Prediction

    Dec 26, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford talks with guard Nicolas Batum (5) and guard Kemba Walker (15) during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hornets defeated the Grizzlies 98-92. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    Strengths:

    Balanced Attack:  At one point in the 2015-16 season the Hornets were one of a handful of teams who ranked top 5 in both offense and defense. Steve Clifford is one of the better coaches in the NBA at getting the best out of his teams on both ends of the court. With MKG back they should be solid defensively again. They’ve lost some fire power with Al Jefferson, but the hopes are Roy Hibbert can fill par of the void.

    Two Emerging Stars: Kemba Walker arrived in the NBA with many questioning his ability to play as a starter. Last season he showcased his growth and put to rest any questions from critics. Kemba Walker was second only to LeBron James with field goals in clutch minutes last season (of note James Harden with fifth). This year the question is whether he can improve upon a career season without Jeremy Lin playing beside him late in games. Batum offers all the extras and his passing is so solid you could be the player who helps Kemba the most.

    Now with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back there is another player who NBA pundits recognize as a solid defender. Word is he put in a ton of work in the off season on his offense. He’s spectacular regardless, but if he can add some offense he’ll be on a super star level. Next to Kawhi Leonard  MKG is the most feared defender in the NBA

    Three Point Shot:   Charlotte had the biggest increase in offense last season (7.4 points more per 100 possessions). The Hornets accomplished this via shooting more threes and improving their efficiency from deep. In fact the Hornets also took the biggest jump in percentage of total shots taken that were threes. Kemba Walker was the most improved shooter in the NBA and Marvin Williams was one of 6 players who shot the three above 40% (300 attempts). Nic Batum and Jeremy Lin also factored in the mix.

    Since the Hornets only lost Lin but added Marco Belinelli, Lin’s threes conceivably will be offset by Belli

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    Weaknesses:

    Offensive diversity up front: The Hornets await Frank Kaminsky to become Frank the Tank and will hope this season that occurs. Aside from Hibbert and Kaminsky there is an absence of talent up front although the Hornets feel Cody Zeller is going to progress. I’m a little less optimistic about his ceiling.

    Propensity to go on losing streaks: While this also works in the opposite way the Hornets have tended to play in streaks the past few season. The season wasn’t without adversity as Charlotte posted a 6-14 record between December 9th and January 16th. They promptly reversed that feat posting a 21-7 record over their next 28 games.

    Versatility on offense: While Walker has the ability to drive and the team has utilized three point shooting and a quick pace they lack players who can consistently create in the paint. Even at his best Hibbert was not a major scorer, so teams will game plan to shut down Kemba by closing his passing lanes and then defend the perimeter. Without a viable paint offense this strategy may be the best at shutting down or limiting the Hornets.

    Prediction:

    Best Case: Though the Hornets lost Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson they hope the additions of Marco Belinelli and Roy Hibbert will offset most of the offense lost. Another year of growth from the core of Walker, Batum, Williams and MKG will once again put them into the top 10 offense and defense. If the Hornets can accomplish this while continuing to hit multiple threes they’ll return to the post season easily. That said, Charlotte’s season will be judged on their ability to win a first round series.

    Worst Case: Front court issues hamper the offense add injuries to key players for any sustained period and it will result in the Hornets missing the post season. Or they make the post season only to lose in the first round again which in essence is no better for them than missing the playoffs altogether.

    Of all the Eastern Conference teams arguably the Hornets are the hardest to predict. As many pundits who have them ranked outside the playoffs equally as many have them ranked in the playoffs as high as fourth.  Remaining healthy is key. I see them making the playoffs somewhere between the 4 and 7 seed.

    FanSided Affiliate Site: Swarm and Sting

    Next: Miami Heat 2016-17 Team Preview

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