Two years ago, the Charlotte Hornets were on the rise. The team had just won 48 games, earned a playoff berth and had a group of intriguing prospects to go with solid, prime-age vets flanking the always improving (and eventual All-Star) Kemba Walker. But after a forgettable 16-17 campaign and slow start to open this season, the Hornets are now facing a tough choice between the comfort of a franchise star or a walk down the unforgiving rebuild road. Before seeing how Walker became the focal point of Charlotte’s future, it’s important to take a look at how this franchise fell instead of flew. And it pretty much comes down to three major roster building flaws that have combined to put the Hornets in this situation. The first issue is how the club has failed to fill out the fringes of their rotation since key role players left during the summer of 2016. Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee and Al Jefferson aren’t world beating stars on their own, but they played a huge role in providing depth and productive minutes for a team that damn near won 50 games. In an effort to replace them, the Hornets banked on bargain free agent pickups Roy Hibbert and Ramon Sessions while trading for Marco Belinelli. It, umm, didn’t work out. Sessions was a disaster in the 50 games he played. Belinelli posted pedestrian numbers in a limited role. Hibbert’s offensive shortcomings outweighed any defensive value he brought to the table and was eventually traded. Throw in some bad luck in close games -- Charlotte went 22-29 in games decided by five points or less in the last five minutes, per NBA.com -- and you get part of the reason why this franchise lost 12 wins in a single year. This year it’s been a similar story so far. Michael Carter-Williams was brought in to solve the backup point guard problem. His numbers state he’s likely playing for his last NBA team. Johnny O’Bryant and Julyan Stone were brought in to provide depth at the end of the bench. Stone has failed to stick with two other teams before this while spending the past three years out of the NBA. Neither has made a positive impact on the team so far this year.
Charlotte's Forthcoming Kemba Walker Decision
Real GM Basketball | Dec 16