By Trace Walker (Follow @trace937)
Prior to the start of the NBA season, many raised concerns about this year’s Hornets; who would fill Jeremy Lin’s spot? What would the loss of Big Al Jefferson mean?
Seven games into the season and Hornet fans have pushed their worries aside and are buzzing with excitement about their team.
Charlotte stays hot! The Hornets are off to their best 7-game start in franchise history after beating Jazz tonight, 104-98. pic.twitter.com/Z4GNdLzW7K
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 10, 2016
A start of 6-1 is the best in Charlotte history and the Hornet’s aren’t looking to slow down any time soon. The team’s play has remained strong despite injuries to key role players. Jeremy Lamb hasn’t played since October 29 due to a hamstring issue. There hasn’t been much word on his return; he’s been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Raptors.
The Hornet’s new big man, Roy Hibbert, has also not seen much playing time as he has been out with knee soreness. Roy should be back soon, he is expected to return against Toronto but will most likely get limited minutes. When the ex-Pacer has played, he’s made his presence known. In thethe season opener, Hibbert recorded five blocks.
Hibbert’s stat line against the Bucks
In the recent past, the Hornet’s have been known more for their defensive prowess than their scoring ability. That changed last year when Charlotte’s offensive firepower drastically increased. The Hornet’s are building upon that foundation and are perhaps becoming the most versatile team the franchise has seen. With the quick Kemba driving the lane and dishing it to a plethora of shooters, the Hornets can put points up quickly.
The Hornets dropped 75 Pts in the 1st half, tied for the most 1st half points in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/4IVfhzwF2l
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 8, 2016
Against the Pacers, Charlotte put up 75 points in the first half; tying a record that hasn’t been touched since Hornet’s announcer, Dell Curry, was still suited up in the purple and teal.
(Courtesy of The Charlotte Observer)
This team has weapons all around on offense. It’s much more enjoyable to watch a game compared to the good ole’ Bobcat days when making a three-pointer was a rarity. In a ten year period, the team only broke into the top twenty, in terms of three-pointers made in the NBA, once. Last year, they ranked fourth in the NBA, the highest ranking of the sorts Charlotte has received since 1994. Now, it seems that just about every player on the floor can put up a good shot from deep at any time. The 3-point onslaught is currently led by Kemba Walker who is averaging three a game.
The cardiac kid hasn’t just been shooting threes though, Walker’s ball handling, driving ability, and poise is the back bone of this team.
Kemba dishes off the sweet behind-the-back pass! #NBAVine https://t.co/dcvCvqFtJV
— NBA (@NBA) November 8, 2016
Kemba has been leading his team to wins in style.
Kemba step back still going strong 💪🏽 https://t.co/xdQ2PpHdnS
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 10, 2016
The Hornets have found success because they don’t rely on one person to score. Each player has their role and plays it well. Over this winning stretch, the bench has played tremendously. Several players have stepped up to put in solid minutes when the starters are on the bench. In Wednesday night’s game against the Jazz, the Hornet bench outscored their opponent’s 41-20.
Frank Kaminsky has looked stronger and much more “NBA ready” than his rookie season. It seems that he is able to get himself in better positions and possesses an expanded arsenal of offensive moves
Frank the Tank has been averaging 11.4 points per game, an upgrade from 7.5 last year.
Spencer Hawes has also been showing his worth to the team. He’s proved that he can consistently be a viable option on offense while also holding his own on defense. Hawes has put up double-digit scoring in four games so far this season, let’s hope his contributions keep coming.
.@SpencerHawes00 with the big sequence 🔥 the block & the dish to @marcobelinelli 🔥 @KumhoTireUSA #kumhotirereplay #UTAatCHA #buzzcity pic.twitter.com/yDmeEzA8v8
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) November 10, 2016
At first I wasn’t quite sure what to think about Marco Belinelli joining the team, but his presence is slowing growing on me. He’s better on defense than I previously thought, and is able to contribute some scoring. His ability to take and make big shots will definitely come in handy as the seasons goes on.
Marco Belinelli is not in sync with his teammates tonight pic.twitter.com/Wh8NnLjl3j
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) November 8, 2016
Hopefully his chemistry with the team will also grow over the duration of the year!
The Hornets are currently second in the East and on a four game win streak. The team has gotten some good wins at the start of the season but their strength will be tested in the next few coming games. On Friday, the Hive will host the NBA’s leading scorer, Demar Derozan, and the Toronto Raptor’s in what should be a dog fight.
After that they will travel to Cleveland to take on LeBron James and the defending NBA champions. The Hornets will then continue north to Minnesota, where they’ll match up against the young but dynamic Timberwolves.
Thanks for reading and as always, go Hornets!