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.

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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.

 

 

Purple Shirt Guy: Time for ME to Tell The Story!

CHARLOTTE, NC – APRIL 29: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat reacts after making a shot late in the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets during game six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 29, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)


I admit that initially I was pretty peeved with Michael Deason who has now become a part of Charlotte Hornets folklore as “Purple Shirt Guy”. I was frustrated with the series against Miami ending the way it did. I felt like the victory just slip away. I wanted that first playoff series win in 14 years (at the time) more than I could put into words and when we lost, I along with most of the Hornets fan base gravitated my gaze towards Michael. We used him as a scapegoat and luckily Michael was strong enough to carry that load without it really phasing him.
As time passed I was able to recognize the legitimate reasons for the loss BUT I watched as fellow members of Buzz City just couldn’t let it go. I became fascinated as his character became more influential to the game and the proverbial fish just kept getting bigger. He got more blame than actual starting players who scored 0 points in that game 6.
It’s been several years and yet he is still a reoccurring reference on social media with mostly a threatening tone. This made me want to find the “Purple Shirt Guy”, ask some questions, hear the story from his angle and hear what he thought about the blame still being placed on him.

1) In your own words describe the events of game six and what words exactly were exchanged between you and Dwyane Wade.
1.Answer: In order to understand my demeanor in Game 6, you have to realize my enthusiasm in games 3 and 4. Apparently, in those games (in which I believe we won games 3 and 4), the NBA thought I had been cheering too enthusiastically. I received a call from the Hornets organization after game 3, in which it was explained that remain in front of my seats (i ran down the sidelines during timeouts giving high fives and trying to get people on their feet). So, in game 4, I remained just as enthusiastic but remained in front of our seats. Again, a phone call….
I was a little upset with being singled out. So, I decided to not stand and cheer during the first half of Game 6. I sat in my seat and pumped my fists a few times, but I did not stand. I tried to give very little support. Maybe I was trying to prove a point….. Ha! Don’t think I was successful at that. In any case, I simply yelled to Dwayne Wade that he should retire during the first half. In the second half, I went back to cheering enthusiastically. When Wade hit the 2 pointer (over Courtney Lee, I wasn’t playing) with his signature penetrate and fade away, I was cheering for the Defense not against the Heat. And this was a 2 pointer that put the heat up by 5. We had a chance to tie but gave the ball up which gave Wade the chance to score.
After getting up, Wade got in my face and made a comment (it was later explained to me that he said, I’m a bad mother f***er). I didn’t hear what he said. I was more shocked at the fact that he said anything to me. I was simply reminding him that he only tied the series and that he still had one more game to go. Wade usually got on to any of the players that responded to us. It was humorous to watch. So, after 7 years of not saying anything, I suppose I got in his head.

2) Are you aware that a select group of Hornets fans use you as a scapegoat for the series loss? Have any of those fans attempted to contact you? If so what did they say?
2. Answer: Yes, which is fine. It must be hard for this select group of fans to point to the players, coaches or anyone actually paid by the Hornets and accuse them of being the cause.
Maybe I provide a stress relief for these fans. So your welcome? As for contacting me, I had my time on twitter. It was interesting to say the least. One guy posted an old address and suggested fans come heckle me……. He was easy to contact and explain the dangers of putting an address on line. Other than that, not really.

3) It was rumored that you were no longer allowed to have courtside seats. Is this true and what is your relationship with the organization (what did they say to you)? Have you gone to Hornets games since that night?
3. Answer: HaHa!!! No. I gave up my tickets. I was recently contacted about getting tickets again, but I think the guy was just calling off an old list. hahaha. I have been back to 2 games since. I had fun, but it was time to move on. Besides, the “greatest 2 guard” in the NBA, found it necessary to let some fan know just how awesome he was. I mean, if you have to state the “obvious”, you might have doubts yourself.

4) Are you still a Hornets fan? How long were you a fan? What is your opinion on the currents state of the team?
4. Answer: I am a Hornets fan. I don’t keep up with NBA as much as some think I do, but I became more of a fan when we first became season ticket holders. It was nice to be involved with the transition of the names. It brought more excitement to the games. There was a difference from when they were the Bobcats.
As for my opinion of the current state of the team…… maybe I should keep that opinion to myself.

5) Do you feel any responsibility for the loss?
5. Answer: If I am to take responsibility for the loss, will the same people give me responsibility for the wins? In games 3 and 4, I cheered like a mad man. We won. In game 6, I sat the 1st half and cheered the 2nd half. We got outscored in the 1st half and we outscored them in the 2nd. This is just a fact. I am by no means claiming that I, the Purple Shirt Guy, have some miraculous power to cause greatness to happen. Dwayne Wade is great player. He should have not had a 3 month shooting drought. So, I guess he finally realized that maybe he should start earning the $18.5 million.

 

6) Had you ever had an altercation with a player on the court before that incident? Who? What happened?
6. Answer: I told Kevin Durant that he was number 3 in the league and asked if he would stop crying to the refs every time he missed a shot? He replied, “I’m number one bitch. You don’t know who you are talking to….” I simply laughed and asked if Lebron and Curry would agree. It ended up with me being Red Carded. Hahahaha! I guess there is a first for everything. The ref that was close to me when this happened called the Hornets next time he was scheduled to see if I would be at the game……. He later gave me his whistle.
Most players we simply would remind them of the awesome warm-up percentage they had and not be discouraged by the in-game percentage and give a suggestion to practice with defense next time. We tried to get the opposing team thinking about anything other than the game. We kept it clean and made some friends along the way. We got along great with Steven Jackson when he was in Charlotte. When we were the Bobcats, I had the opportunity to fly with the team to a Timberwolves game.
I got upset with one official, Kane Fitzgerald, and began asking him the spread of the game. He didn’t like it, so I was asked to leave with 34 seconds left. The next time I was in Charlotte when he was scheduled, I got his whistle.
I had a conversation with Chris Bosh where I told him how much I respected him (based off an interview I saw with him). He came over and thanked me for being a fan. I had a great 7 years supporting the team.

7) We believe you live in Greensboro now. That season were you making the commute for regular season games? Have you been to a Greensboro Swarm game?
7. Answer: That is correct and yes. I purchased tickets to the Swarm for the 1st season. I gave them up.

 

8) If there is anything you would want to say to Hornets fans and the organization what would you say?
8 Answer: Maybe put your energy around what really cost the game. Also, maybe try showing up during the regular season with Hornets gear on and not the opposing super star jersey. Try giving the same enthusiasm during the year against suck teams. Your support might actually help the Hornets win more.

 

9) Did you think people would care this long about the incident? Final Words?
 
9. Answer: That is funny. Absolutely not. What’s crazy is that a 30-second ad spot during game 6 cost around $430,000. I paid much, much less, and you are still talking about me.
Check out Ozone Waste Solutions. We are striving to change the way we handle medical waste and hopefully onto other waste streams. Pretty interesting and might surprise some people. No big final words, besides, who would really listen?

Hornets Roster full of Questions as Season Approaches.

As we put the dog days of the NBA off-season behind us and begin to look forward to training camp getting started the Charlotte Hornets roster is full of guys who will be feeling pressure to prove themselves on many different levels. With a new coach and GM calling the shots, nothing is owed to guys who have been here for a few seasons. Aside from Kemba everyone in Purple and Teal has something to prove, but for this article I will highlight the 4 veterans who have their backs against the wall this season.

Frank Kaminsky

Frank will basically be playing for his NBA life this season as he enters the last year of his rookie scale contract. I would stop just short of calling him a bust as he has played a role the last three years coming off the bench, but I think it is fair at this point to say he has not lived up to his draft position or hype coming out of college. His lack of defensive improvement over his first three seasons makes me think he will never be a true starter at any point in his NBA career and while he increased his 3pt% last year, his lack of rebounding makes is difficult to slot him in off the bench as a center. Unless Frank can find a way to improve either his rebounding or defense, or he shoots 40% or better from three EARLY this year, look for his minutes to begin to be cut in favor of Miles Bridges.

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Nic Batum

This season is Nic’s final chance to prove signing him to that massive contract in 2016 wasn’t the worst contract in Hornets history. The first two years of the 5 year contract were a massive disappointment for Hornets fans, and to be fair he had trouble with an elbow injury early last year. This year however there are no excuses, he is healthy so far and the Hornets got rid of Dwight Howard who Nic didn’t seem to be able to figure out how to play with at all last year. The Hornets also went out and signed one of his best friends in Tony Parker and it also appears that he will be moving back to his natural position of Small Forward this year. All that said, if Nic can’t hit shots consistently and help facilitate the offense at a much better rate than the last two years, you have to wonder if James Borrego will remove Nic from the starting line-up despite that 24 million dollar salary.

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  Cody Zeller

Cody finds himself here for a much different reason than the previous two players. No one questions his heart, talent or positive impact on the Hornets when he is on the floor. His screen setting and work in the pick and roll with Kemba creates issues for defenses that truly make the offense more efficient. The problem with Cody is he tends to hit the floor, then end up watching 25 or so games in a suit with injury problems. If the Hornets want to sneak into the playoffs this season, Cody has to play in 72 games or more. If he misses significant time again this year, many NBA fans and more importantly General Managers will look at him as a very expensive injury prone player who can,t be counted on.

Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb should be the starting shooting guard on this team from the opening tip of game one this year. The info that Nic is moving back to the 3 spot means MKG will probably lose his starting spot and create the opening for the sleepy eyed swingman from UCONN to be a full-time starter for the first time in his career. This also happens to be the final year of Lamb’s contract so this season sets up to be a massive chance for him to prove himself as a quality NBA starter, then sit back and wait for the phone to ring in early July and cash in. He was solid as a starter last year when he filled in for Batum averaging 16 points 6 boards and 3 assists in 18 starts while shooting 39.2% from three points range. If he can do that or slightly better this year, teams will be lining up to pay him 12-15 million a year for the next 4 years.

 

This Hornets team truly has more questions than answers heading into this season, with a new coach and a new front office the teams future is truly anyones guess. However for some of these veteran players, this season could truly mean the difference between signing that big deal that sets you up for life, or figuring out what job you are qualified for in the real world with us regular folks.

 

 

 

 

All photos from Associated PRESS