Hey Hornets, Get Yourselves Together Before Its too Late!

The season is slipping away from the Hornets as we move thru December, and unless they start playing with intensity for 48 minutes a night, a season that started with so much promise will join the stack of disappointing seasons in the Hornets history.  We are always told to be patient as fans, we are only 24 games into the season and we have a new coach….BLAH, BLAH, BLAH……  The honest truth is very simple, this team has zero margin of error in the second half of the season due to a very difficult schedule heavy with road games. The Hornets have 9 of the next 13 games at home and 2 of the road games are against struggling teams in the Nets and Knicks.  This stretch will end right after we toast to the New Year, the question is will we as fans be fired up about the future of this season….or will we be hung-over from drowning our sorrows as we watch the Hornets waste another season by underachieving? We have reached the part of the season where teams who were struggling early are starting to figure things out and we have slowly begun to slide down the standings. I have some thoughts on what we need to see (Besides 8 or 9 wins) before we reach January 3rd.

STOP THE MADNESS MR. BORREGO

While I have seen some positives from the new coach early this year, I do have a couple concerns.  While Frank has played fairly well of late, I don’t like the fact that Willy Hernangomez lost his spot in the rotation due to injury, and now has been stuck behind Biz in recent games. This can’t continue. Biz isn’t a part of the future of this team, and honestly shouldn’t be part of the present. In the Hornets loss to the T-wolves Biz played 4 minutes while the game was in question and was a -9. So please Mr. Borrego let Willy play, and let Biz go back to waving a towel.  Another issue is a closing line-up, WE HAVE TO DECIDE ON ONE! I saw a Tweet from noted Buzz Beat numbers guy Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) in reference to the Hornets 4th quarter lineups.

Hornets haven’t played a single 4th quarter lineup more than 12 minutes. Charlotte played 18 different Q4 lineups between 5-12 minutes.  Dec 4th 2018

Now don’t get me wrong, I get the need for experimentation, but this seems a little extreme. The coach needs to try and let players get used to performing in closing roles along side the same teammates in order to get more comfortable in the quarter that they seem to struggle so much in. We all know the Hornets have been insanely bad late in games, but this is something that will only be solved when players know what is expected of them when tight games happen.

PLAYERS MUST BRING IT, EVERY NIGHT

Guys are gonna miss shots, we know that and understand that, what I can’t deal with is not coning on the court with intensity on defense. This team flat out doesn’t have enough talent to get lazy on the defensive end. (See loses to 3 terrible teams so far this season) While the offense is still very dependent on the 3 point shot, the defense relies on energy and communication, which are things that players can control every time they step on the court. The defense has been sliding of late, and if it doesn’t turn around upcoming games vs. teams like the Lakers, Nuggets (twice) and Celtics could get really ugly early.

FANS MUST DO THEIR PART

These next 9 home games will be crucial to the Hornets success or failure this season. The only thing fans can truly control in this game is the home court advantage.  Get out and get loud, if you haven’t seen the team live in awhile make a trip uptown to be a part of helping the team. If you have season tickets, get a little louder than usual. Follow Bring Back The Buzz on twitter to get updates on cheap tickets for the games as well. The louder the stadium is the better chance the team has of making noise in the eastern conference.

This stretch starting tonight could possibly not only be the determining stretch of this season, but could ultimately lead to shaping the future of this franchise for years to come. If the Hornets can get hot and put themselves solidly in playoff contention as we hit the new year, it could force the franchise to go out and get another impact player via trade, However, if the Hornets fall flat on their faces and find themselves deep on the wrong side of .500 as the ball drops on New Years Eve, it could lead to one of the scariest words in sports…..”Rebuild”.

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The Answer to Hornets needs is in the Desert, not D.C.

Image designed by Atay (click image for more details)

After witnessing Kemba Walker force the NBA to take notice last week, and also force the front office to get very serious about finding him legit help via the trade market, Im not gonna lie and say I didn’t get excited about the idea of Bradley Beal in the Teal and Purple.  Buuuuuuut, come on folks, we all know another team is gonna come in with a better offer than we can. I mean no one wants Batum even if you attach a couple 1st rounders and one of our three young assets looks like he has been shooting with his eyes closed for 2 weeks. And I’m constantly annoyed by the “Trade Machine” crown on twitter, trying to talk people into how the Hornets can get Kevin Durant for Nic Batum because it works on that dumb ass site. However, I do believe there is an answer to the Hornets prayers for a second scorer who won’t kill you on defense, and he resides currently in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.

T.J. Warren is a 25 year old 6 foot 8 inch combo forward who has spent his entire career  with the Suns playing under multiple coaches in several different roles. He signed a 4 year 50 million dollar contract this past off-season. He is a decent defender, and an okay rebounder but his true strength is very simple, the dude puts the ball in the basket. Last year as a starter he scored 19.6 points a game in 33 minutes on 50% from the floor. His only offensive weakness was shooting the three, and well he seems to have put some work in on that this year as he is hitting 47% on 4 threes a game off the bench for the hapless Suns.  Put this young man in Coach Borrego’s system with ball movement and fast breaks and he could really flourish. He projects to a small ball 4 in the Hornets system but could play minutes at both the 3 or the 5 depending on match-up and would be a great compliment to Bridges as he matures.

His contract is quite affordable compared to Hornets players and there would be several possible packages Mitch can put together to get him here. The Suns aren’t ready to win anything at this point, but could be players in free agency next year with solid cap space available. So maybe you could offer a package including Frank and Lamb who both expire this season and a protected first for him. Or maybe the Suns and their new coach are looking for a solid defensive first player to pair with young guys who struggle to defend. Maybe MKG and a second round pick gets the deal done. We just don’t have a good enough package to bring in a proven young All-Star like Beal, however Warren would be the next best thing, a proven NBA scorer who with a little coaching and some veteran leadership, could be a 20 point a night guy who can both start or come off the bench and is on a team friendly deal for the run the Hornets appear to be gearing up for in the next few years.

Seriously, Kemba Walker has gotten better…..Again.

Its only 10 games, its early yet, lets not jump to conclusions…..These are all things we hear on podcasts and read on twitter as the NBA calendar hits November. Well, folks I have never been real good at listening to direction, and I am here to tell you right here right now, Kemba Walker is having a career year and its not going to stop. While Hornets fans are likely less surprised than the national NBA fans, the idea that Kemba has found another level is quite amazing, but anyone who has followed Kemba thus far should have seen this coming a mile away.

While we always see guys have a hot start every season that we know is not going to last, for example Blake Griffin is not going to shoot 46% from 3 all season, the boost we have seen in Kemba’s numbers are coming in less minutes per game than his previous 3 years. Walker has found a way to become more aggressive off the ball than we have seen before, his movement without the ball is becoming shooting guard like and his quick trigger coming off screens is leading to more open shots. While Kemba should get most of the credit for his improvement we have to give credit to James Borrego for helping Kemba reach his potential as well.

When JB took over the coaching duties this off-season it was clear he wanted to the Hornets to push the ball and make quick decisions. His philosophy based on space and pace plays right into Walker’s strengths and both a ball handler and scorer.  As fans we watched Kemba become underutilized last year due to the arrival of Dwight Howard. The focus of the offense became a guy who rarely passed, so once he received the ball in the paint, guys just stopped and watched. So the idea of a faster paced offense with more ball movement seemed like a perfect fit. So far the Hornets offense is buzzing and Kemba is posting career highs in points per game, true shooting percent, Player Efficiency Rating and shots per game. He is also taking 51 percent of his shots from three, while lowering his long range 2 point shots to only 9%.

Possibly the largest single improvement thus far this year has been Kemba’s defense. He has always been a capable defender but due to his burden on offense it was hard to blame him for not always going 100% on the defensive end of the floor. This year however the intensity shown from Kemba has been obvious from game one. He has always been good at drawing charges, but this season he is on pace for over 55 charges drawn, a career high by a mile. He also has done a great job slowing down bigger players when he gets switched onto them. He uses his low center of gravity and quick hands to keep players from getting where they want long enough for help to arrive.

The NBA is starting to take notice of what Kemba is doing early in this season, he won Eastern Conference player of the Week honors once already this season, and he is showing up on some Las Vegas MVP lists. The reality is unless the Hornets keep collecting wins that attention will fade as they fade in the standings. However, if the Hornets can continue to stay relevant and force their way into the play-offs as one of the surprise teams who over-achieve pre-season expections, Kemba could be on his way to his first All-NBA Team selection and possible first round series win, which I think we all can agree would cement him as the Franchise GOAT, no matter what some voters have said recently.

What to Be Excited About Early for The Charlotte Hornets

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(Image from wcti12.com)

Following a four-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder after blowing a twenty-point lead, it can be easy for fans to quickly become negative and categorize this team as the same old Hornets. Plain and simple, this team is not the same Charlotte Hornets. Change is visible from the coaching staff to the court, and for the first time in what feels like forever, it is not negative. Remove yourself from the emotion of blowing a lead at home and look at what the Hornets have done thus far. Three loses have been to teams in the mix for a top four seed in the east (Milwaukee, Toronto, and Philadelphia) with two of those being on the road. These were games that we could’ve won, but it certainly wasn’t an expectation given the team we fielded last year. The other two loses were a road game to a winless Bulls team who was hungry for their first win, and a struggling OKC team with two legitimate stars at home. Minus the Bulls loss, we have not lost a single game that we should’ve won easily. My point? We are beating the teams we should be beating, which any Hornets fan should know isn’t exactly normal for this organization.

While the wins and loses are fun to look at, the on-court evaluation is where this Hornets team begins to separate itself from years past. The young talent on this team is eye opening. The bench depth this team has is far better than the torment we had to endure watching when the starters came off the court last year, and we have a coach that has adapted to the new NBA by playing a fast-paced offense and shooting lots of threes. Starting with young talent, despite Bridges and Monk both only being twenty years old, they have shown so many flashes of brilliance that you cannot help but wonder how talented they may be in the future. While it is early, Bridges looks to be the best draft pick since Kemba, and should be a lock to participate in the dunk contest already with how many highlights he has produced in nine games. Monk on the other hand has shown he has all the talent to be a legit back court option to take the load off Kemba, with the only question for him being his defensive ability. The bottom line is, if these two continue to receive playing time from coach Borrego, there is no doubt we will begin to see some solid talent forming around Kemba.

Looking back at last year’s bench, we suffered through MCW, Jeremy Lamb, Treveon Graham, Frank, and Cody Zeller, with Malik Monk, and Dwayne Bacon getting limited minutes behind them. After the starters, we had zero defense, a point guard who was incapable of running an offense and continually missed easy layups, and no true scorer outside of Jeremy Lamb. In comparison to the bench this year, you cannot help but be joyful to see a future Hall of Famer in Tony Parker running the point when the starters leave the court. This allows our offense to flow much better when Kemba needs rest, and hopefully will allow him to sustain his high level of play through the entire season and into the playoffs. Also, our second unit is vastly improved from last year with MKG moved to the bench, and Bridges playing next to him. They both provide solid defense on the wing, and are versatile enough to guard anyone on the court if it is required. The biggest takeaway from the bench though is that they have not been prone to blowing leads this season, which was a trademark for last year’s bench. Actually, this bench has come in and sparked the team to play better because of the flare Monk and Bridges seem to show off on a nightly basis.

 

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(Image from CharlotteObserver.com)

Lastly, coach Borrego’s new system seems to be getting the most out of our players, and fits well in today’s modern NBA. Yes, you could argue there have been several mistakes Borrego has made in regard to his rotations early on, but you must remember this is his first year being a head coach, so there will obviously be some adjustments he will have to make. The important thing, however, is that he seems to have a good coaching style, and seems flexible with who is playing night in and night out. One of the biggest issues I had with coach Clifford last year was that the rotation that was like clockwork. Every team knew who would be on the floor at what time, and he would not adjust it regardless of the matchup. Borrego searching for the players that will hustle on the court will hopefully prevent complacency, and allow the players that deserve to be on the court to get minutes.

All of these things are not only welcome changes from last year, but seem to bode well for seasons to come with this Hornets team. My goal and other fans’ goal for this team should be to win a playoff series this year. That would be a massive step in the right direction, and give us something to build on with our young talent entering a pivotal time in Hornets franchise history.

PANTHERS VS. REDSKINS WEEK 6 FILM REVIEW: BREAKING DOWN THE DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES

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The Panthers fell to 3-2 after a hard fought loss to the Washington Redskins as they were unable to overcome 17-0 deficit. In the first half of the game, the Panthers turned the ball over three times which led to 10 Redskins points. The Panthers staged a late, second half rally but came up short in the final minutes.

The Redskins beat the Panthers at their own game. On defense, they were able to force three turnovers and put their offense in favorable positions. On offense, the Redskins controlled the ball with a power run game led by Adrian Peterson who finished with 17 carries for 97 yards. The Redskins dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 35 minutes and 24 seconds, compared to 24 minutes and 36 seconds for the Panthers.

The difference in time of possession proved to be one of the deciding factors in the game. The Panthers only had three possessions in the 2nd half which made it difficult to finish the comeback attempt. The Panthers defense was unable to get off of the field to give the offense more opportunities to get points. The Redskins converted 7 out of 16 third down attempts and one out of two fourth down attempts.

The Panthers defense appears to be a unit that is still struggling to find to find its identity. Heading into the matchup against the Eagles, the Panthers defense ranks 15th in rushing yards per game given up, which is the team’s lowest ranking since 2014. The unit is giving up an average of 4.6 yards per carry which ranks 23rd in the league. The Panthers defense is also one of the five worst in defending 3rd and “medium” (3-6 yards) situations. According to NFL Matchup, the Panthers defense allows first downs on 53.8 percent of opponents’ 3rd and medium situations.

Given the uncharacteristic performance of the Panthers defense, I decided to focus the Week 6 breakdown solely on the struggles of the Panthers defense. I take a look at each of the Redskins key plays of offense that led to touchdowns or allowed them to sustain drives. Based on my observations, I believe that the Panthers defensive problems are fixable and it comes down to players being more disciplined with their assignments and coaching adding some wrinkles to the defense to make their pass coverages more effective.

Enjoy the video and let me know what you think. These are things that will hopefully be corrected as the team heads to Philadelphia in an important road matchup.

Hornets Ticket Prices On Secondary Market Up 16% For 2018-19 Season

Charlotte made wholesale changes — both in coaching and on the court — during the offseason, and fans were clearly ready. The Hornets replaced Steve Clifford with James Borrego at the top and Kemba Walker now has Tony Parker and No. 34 overall draft pick Devonte’ Graham, among others, to help out.
All those changes have resulted in an increase in demand for Hornets tickets. The $89 average asking price on the secondary market is ranked No. 29 across the NBA, but marks a nearly 16% increase in prices over last season. It is the second cheapest average asking price since secondary ticket marketplace TicketIQ.com began tracking data in 2011, presenting fans with the opportunity to see great basketball at a reasonable price.
The Hornets are celebrating 30 years in Charlotte and will wear throwback white pinstriped uniforms to commemorate the anniversary.
Season tickets, referred to as Swarm365, are available through the team website. Season ticket holders have access to myriad benefits, including a special entry gate at games, invitations to exclusive events with players and coaches, and season-ticket holders’ only concession lines.
Single-game tickets are available on the primary market through Ticketmaster, and are available for all games, including the the December 15 Los Angeles Lakers game. The priciest game of the season, fans are driving up demand for a chance to see LeBron James in a Lakers uniform, but the $79 get-in price on the primary market is among the cheapest to see the Lakers across the NBA.
At $273.60, the average asking price for the Lakers game on the secondary market is more than $40 more expensive than the next highest average asking price. The No. 2-priced game is the February 25 Golden State Warriors game, which checks in at $232.83. The Warriors are the defending NBA champions and are commanding high prices across the league, as well as the No. 1 price for home games.
The next three most expensive games are $205.20 for the March 23 Boston Celtics games, $137.39 for the February 27 Houston Rockets game, and $136.84 for the November 19 Celtics game.
TicketIQ.com has tickets available for all of the top games, including great seats at both Celtics games. Seats behind the basket in 100 Level, Section 110, Row A are available for $299 for for the March 23 Celtics game. For the November 19 Celtics game, fans can treat themselves to seats close to the action  at mid-court between the team benches for $240 in 100 Level, Section 105, Row Q. Both sets of tickets come with TicketIQ.com‘s Low Price Guarantee. 
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CAROLINA PANTHERS VS. NEW YORK GIANTS – WEEK 5 FILM REVIEW

 

Before I get started, I will begin with a brief introduction. As longtime Panthers fans, I and three other friends launched The 4 Man Rush podcast to cover the Panthers in a detailed way that you may not get to see on ESPN or NFL Network. I have had a passion for football since I began playing at eight years old and continue to enjoy breaking down game film to help other fans enjoy the game as much as I do.

This led to the launching of The 4 Man Rush YouTube page, where we created a platform for us to break down Panthers games and give the fans an opportunity to look at things that they may have not seen on a live broadcast or in Bank of America Stadium. Since the start of the season, I began posting weekly game previews, where I will break down the Panthers upcoming opponents and discuss the Panthers’ keys to victory,  and post-game analysis where I will break down the Panthers’ performance. As the channel gains popularity I will continue to add more segments.

Now, let’s talk football. This past weekend, the Carolina Panthers defeated the New York Giants in a 33-31 thriller that was capped off by a 63-yard field goal from kicker Graham Gano. Prior to the game, I looked at the 1-3 Giants as a dangerous opponent despite their record because of the explosive playmakers they have on offense and the young talent that they have on defense. The Giants gave the Panthers everything they can handle as they put up 432 yards of offense and forced two turnovers. In this post-game video, I will break down what the Panthers did well and areas I would like to see them improve as the season progresses. In summary, here were some of my observations:

Positives

2nd Series of the Game – When I looked at the Panthers offense on paper heading into the season, this series is what I envisioned and I would like to see the Panthers build on this. The Panthers ended a 5 play, 75-yard drive in which 5 different players touched the ball. The drive got started with a play-action pass to Devin Funchess who ran a comeback route and made a great sideline catch. Then you saw a preview of what DJ Moore can do with the ball in his hands as he broke numerous tackles on an 18-yard reverse play, highlighted by a crushing block from Cam Newton. The Panthers came back with productive plays from Ian Thomas and Christian McCaffrey before Curtis Samuel capped off the drive with a highlight reel touchdown.

Playaction Pass Game – The Panthers play-action pass game has been clicking as Cam Newton went 8-10 for 117 yards. You are starting to see defenses focus on Christian McCaffrey running the ball and as a receiver out of the backfield which has really opened up the play action pass.

The Return of Thieves Ave – Thieves Ave have continued their hot start to the season as Mike Adams was able to pick off Eli Manning twice. So far, the Panthers have forced 9 turnovers which is 3rd in the NFL.

3rd Down Defense – Credit to the Panthers defense for winning on 3rd down as the Giants went 0-7.

Negatives

Explosive Plays – According to Sharp Football Stats, the Panthers rank towards the bottom of the league in generating explosive passing plays on offense and defending explosive plays on defense. In this game, the Giants generated 307 yards on 10 explosive plays. With respect to other plays, the Giants gained 125 yards on 44 plays (2.8 yards per play). In this video, we break down how the Giants were able to generate explosive plays and why the Panthers have been unable to.

Drive Killers – The Panthers had drives stalled by penalties, turnovers and missed assignments. I would like to see the team be able to better sustain and finish drives going forward.

With that said, I hope you enjoy the video and I look forward to hearing your feedback.