What’s The Buzz? : The Home Stretch

By Trace Walker (  )

“We just grind”

That’s what Kemba Walker had to say following the Hornet’s win over Philadelphia on April Fools’ Day.

That quote summarizes more than just the 76ers game, but the entire season. There have  been times this season where it has seemed as if the Hornets were completely out of a game, only to make a late push and come back. The team seems to always be in that mindset of “we can win this game,” which has led to the best season Charlotte has seen since rejoining the league.

Although the Hornets have had a great regular season, the team is still looking for one thing; a playoff win. In their eleven seasons, Charlotte has only made it into the playoffs twice. In the franchises’ playoff debut in the 2010 playoffs, the Bobcats were swept by Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic. In their second playoff appearance in 2014, the team was swept yet again, this time by Miami’s big three of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.lebron-james-kemba-walker-nba-playoffs-charlotte-bobcats-miami-heat.jpg

(http://goo.gl/fO7S9Z)

So what makes this year different and how will the Hornets be able to celebrate their first playoff victory?

The first thing you need to know is that the Hornets are hot. In March, the team recorded an impressive record of 13-3. Thirteen wins, a team record for W’s in a month, led to Steve Clifford winning Eastern Conference coach of the month. The highlight of the winning streak was March 21’s win over the Spurs. The Hornets came back from 23 to beat San Antonio 91-88. The comeback was the worst largest lead surrendered by the Spurs in the Tim Duncan era.

Next, Charlotte has completely revamped their offense, which led them to 109.2 PPG in March, second in the East. This graphic which was featured in a fantastic SB Nation article, shows the substantial improvements Charlotte’s offense has made this year. The full article can be found here: http://www.sbnation.com/2016/3/29/11320144/charlotte-hornets-breakdown-analysis-offense-three-pointers-steve-clifford.charlotte_hornets_has_changed-1.0.0

Charlotte has clearly made great strides in their ability to shoot from last year. Marvin Williams has been one of the biggest contributors to the increase in 3’s as he is having a career year shooting the ball. William’s fantastic year puts him in elite company in Hornets history as him and Jamal Washburn are the only to record 100 threes and 500 rebounds in a season. Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.58.21 PM.png

Another reason for the Hornet’s success is that the team doesn’t have to rely on one player for production. Kemba Walker is the highest scorer for Charlotte at 21 PPG, but there are multiple players on the roster that can step up at any time to lead the team to a win. This was shown in the Spurs game where Kemba struggled shooting a mere 2-11. Jeremy Lin stepped up in his place dropping 29 points on the second best team in the NBA.
One of the biggest downfalls of the 2013-2014 Bobcats whom fell to the Heat was that they mainly depended on Al Jefferson for offensive production. When Big Al was hurt with a foot injury during the playoff series, the team struggled to find ways to put up points. During the 13′ season, only five Bobcats averaged over 9 points a game; Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal, and Ramon Sessions.
pm5m765fwkbmdxaamgc1.jpg
This year though, the scoring is more evenly spread amongst the team. Five players are averaging over 10 PPG; those of which are Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, and Marvin Williams. It’s also important to note the production of Courtney Lee, Cody Zeller, and Jeremy Lamb whom all average nine points a game.
The Hornets also have for the first time ever, a true home court advantage. When Charlotte scores over 100 points at home, chances are they’re taking home the W, as their record in these games is 22-1. The Buzz is growing around the team, during the year of their last playoff appearance, the average attendance at games was 15,234. That number has greatly grown compared to this years average of 17,466 attendees, a difference of 2,000 more fans at each home game.

What’s Next?

Now that the Hornet’s have secured a playoff spot,

The team will look to finish strong in their last few games. What playoff spot Charlotte will finish with is still a great mystery due to how close the East is. At one point they had worked their way up to third, but a loss to the first place Cavaliers dropped them all the way to sixth. Right now it looks like the Hornets will most likely have to play either the Heat, Pacers, Celtics, or Hawks.

Fortunately for Charlotte, there are some great opportunities to pick up some wins before the end of the season. After a tough game in Toronto on the fifth, the Hornets will face the Knicks, Nets, Wizards, and Magic. All teams that Charlotte has found success against this year. The toughest remaining game is April 11’s matchup against the Celtics in TD Gardens.

 CfInlR9WQAAcflZ.jpg

(hornets.com)

Also, Happy Birthday to Frank Kaminsky, the Hornet’s big man turned 23 Monday.

The Return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

By Trace Walker ()

welcomebackmkg_1148x442.jpg

(hornets.com)

On October 3, Gilchrist suffered a separated right shoulder during a preseason game against the Orlando Magic. Doctors said that the Hornet forward would not make it back to play in the 15-16 season, but Gilchrist recovered much faster, and is back before the all-star game.

In his first game back, Gilchrist had a solid debut, finishing with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Although, the Hornets didn’t have enough fire power to take down the Blazers.

In his second game back, Michael really found his shot. His new shot. The biggest limiting  factor in his success in the NBA, has been his shot, which has been ridiculed for it’s poor form. CUwdWILU8AASkUyBut Gilchrist has worked to completely rebuild his shot. In 2013, the Hornets hired NBA great, Mark Price, as a full-time assistant. Known as one of the best shooters in league history, Price’s job was to build Gilchrist a jump shot. You can read the full story of Gilchrist’s shot in a fantastic article by Lee Jenkins, found here:  http://www.si.com/nba/2015/02/05/michael-kidd-gilchrist-hornets-kentucky-shot-voice

In Sunday nights win against the Lakers, Gilchrist displayed this new shot. Michael finished the game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and three assist. The most impressive part of the night was that he also hit two three pointers. Two three pointers. This may not seem very significant as we are in an era where Stephen Curry averages five a game. But for Gilchrist, this is a huge stepping stone.

Previously to Sunday night, Kidd-Gilchrist had played in 196 NBA games. In those 196 games, he made 3 three pointers. That’s right, three.

In the matchup against the Lakers, Gilchrist nearly matched his career total in three pointers. His new and improved shot should make Hornet fans very excited. Gilchrist is already one of the best defenders in the NBA, an excellent rebounder, and extremely athletic. If you add a jump shot in there, he may be on his way to NBA stardom. After being selected second in the draft, Gilchrist hasn’t quite found his niche in the NBA. Especially in comparison to the number one pick and former Kentucky teammate, Anthony Davis. Now with a new shot, Michael may finally find his place in the league.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Hornets Survive Double OT

By Trace Walker ()

After a slow stretch, the Hornets are starting to build momentum, winning four of their last five games. The team has managed to do so even with injuries to Cody Zeller, Nic Batum, Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeremy Lamb.

Charlotte’s first stop on their four game Western road trip was to Sacramento to visit the Kings. The last meeting between the Kings was November 23 in Charlotte, a game which the Hornets took in overtime.CZlukVyWkAAel0P.jpg

The game didn’t look too promising as the Hornets found themselves down by 15 at the end of the first. But the team found their way back, led in scoring by Troy Daniels, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, and Jeremy Lin, all of whom had over 20 points. It was also an impressive night for Spencer Hawes, who has stepped up lately, he had 18 while going 4-5 from three.

HawesFile

(http://goo.gl/BvWfmm)

The end of the game was interesting for the Hornets because of the mass foul trouble DeMarcus Cousins had gotten the Charlotte big men in. Marvin Williams, Spencer Hawes, and Tyler Hansbrough  all fouled out. In overtime and double OT, the Hornets had to run one of the smallest lineups I’ve ever seen them run. The five on the floor featured Kemba, Jeremy Lin, Troy Daniels, P.J. Hairston, and Frank Kaminsky.

At the end of the fourth, the Hornets took a five point lead on Kemba free throws that was quickly washed away by a DeMarcus Cousins dunk and a Rudy Gay layup. With five seconds left, Cousins made two free-throws to put the Kings up by one. The Hornets got the ball back with a chance to win, Kemba drove to the basket, and draws a foul with .06 seconds left.

Two free throws. Kemba makes both, and it’s game over. Previously to those free throws, Walker had made his last 32 of 35 FTs. He made the first, but unfortunately could not convert the second, which sent the game to overtime.

kemba-walker-nba-charlotte-hornets-new-orleans-pelicans-850x560

(https://goo.gl/DOXdB1)

At the end of the first overtime, the Hornets had another chance to put the game away. Kemba drove to the basketball, but was blocked by Cauley-Stein with one second left. The Kings inbounded the ball, but turned it over, giving the Hornets yet another change, but Kemba was unable to get off a good shot.

In the second overtime, Rudy Gay was fouled while shooting a three. He then missed two of his three free throws due to his eye barely being open. Untitled

After fouling out three Hornets, Cousins finally fouled out in the second overtime. This was big for Charlotte as their biggest player on the floor was Frank Kaminsky.

With 12 seconds left, the Hornets were down by two with the ball. On the inbounds play, Troy Daniels catches the pass and immediately throws up a shot. At first I was wondering why he would shoot that early in the possession, but then he drained it!

The Kings didn’t have an answer for the ice cold Daniels. So Hornets win!

8518715.jpg

(http://goo.gl/MOsOXB)

Although I’m thrilled the Hornets pulled off the win, you have to pay respect to Boogie for his monster game. The man just could not be stopped by anything, other than 6 fouls. Cousins finished the game with 56 points and 12 rebounds. DeMarcus has 104 points in his last two games. Also, Rajon Rondo finished the game with 20 assist.

Kemba Walker was named Eastern player of the week, while DeMarcus was named Western player of the week. On this night Kemba struggled though, shooting a mere 5-25 from the field. Luckily for the Hornets, another guard stepped up in his place, Troy Daniels. Daniels was on fire, having a career high 28 points.

Coming up, the Hornets have three more games on their west coast trip. Wednesday night the team will travel to Utah to take on the Jazz. The Hornets need a win to get back to .500.

Cardiac Kemba Gets Hornets Back on Track

By Trace Walker

“I’m a little upset with myself right now,” that’s what Kemba Walker told Stephanie Ready following his 52 point performance against the Utah Jazz. Kemba was talking about not taking advantage of opportunities to end the game before it reached double overtime. That quote summarizes the mindset of the young guard Walker, always striving for improvement and to become a better player for his team.

Kemba’s 52 points are the most ever put up by a Charlotte player, breaking Glen Rice’s previous record of 48 points which he set in 1997.

The Hornets needed Kemba’s performance to help them get only their second win in the last ten games.  To go along with his 52 points, Walker also had 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

 

CZED9XuWUAI0zir

(NBA)

Only four players this season have had a 50+ point game, Kemba joins elite company in the 50 club.

 CZCcY2wWsAAUEfu

(ESPN)

The Hornets lost their large lead in the fourth to let the Jazz back in it. It seemed like every time Charlotte started to pull away, Utah would answer with their own big shot. Such as Trey Burke’s corner three at the end of regulation which sent the game to overtime.

It was also an impressive night for Marvin Williams who finished with 19 points. The timing of his points though were crucial, as he knocked down clutch three pointers and free throws to secure the game.

hi-res-a5160b92be0cffd8cdfe41682f041549_crop_north

(http://goo.gl/WNkUBt)

Gordon Hayward finished the night with 36 points and 9 assists. Although he made a crucial mistake at the end of double overtime, when he stepped out of bounds while attempting to shoot the potential game tying three. Gordon was almost a Hornet back in 2014 when the team signed him to a 4 year, 63 million dollar deal. Hayward stayed in Utah though due to the Jazz matching the offer on the restricted agent. N3x1qAXV_400x400.jpeg

(Via Hayward’s Twitter)

Two overtimes led to players in very high minutes played

Hornets Vs. Jazz
Player Minutes Played
 Hayward  48
 Gobert 43
 Williams 44
 Zeller 41
 Batum  47
 Walker  46
 Lin  36

Looking ahead, the Hornets travel to Oklahoma City, Wednesday night to try and slow down the Thunder. The Thunder, led by MVP, Kevin Durant, and All-Star, Russell Westbrook, will be hard to beat as they have won eight of their last ten games. The last matchup between the two was earlier in the month, the Thunder took the game 109-90. Kemba was the high scorer that night with 32 points. reggie-jackson-russell-westbrook-nba-charlotte-hornets-oklahoma-city-thunder-850x560.jpg

(http://goo.gl/GFjFKI)

Also, good news for Hornets fans, MKG is back. Back to full contact practice that is. But that’s one step in the right direction in getting the defensive wingman back.

 

Trade Talk

By Trace Walker


After a great start to the season, the Hornets have reverted back to their losing ways. The team currently sits at 17-18, which puts them at fourth in the Southeast division. Since December 12, the Hornets are a mere 3-11. Charlotte has had pretty tough competition during this losing streak, playing games against teams such as the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Clippers, and Clippers. There have also been many games that should have been very winnable, such as the Suns game, where Phoenix ended their nine game losing streak.

Unknown.jpeg

(https://goo.gl/wgygmA)

Many blame the absence of Al Jefferson as one of the main reasons for Charlotte’s losing. Without their center, the Hornets are left with no real big body in the paint. With Jefferson out, the team is left with big men Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams, and Spencer Hawes. None of whom can quite fill Jefferson’s role, who has only played in two games since November.

NBA: Preseason-Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Hornets

(http://goo.gl/PKQUGI)

With the Hornets falling to tenth in the Eastern Conference, I believe that it’s time to switch some things up in Charlotte. I have conjured a list of attributes I believe the Hornets should trade for, and possible players that could fill those roles.

Needs:

A reliable scorer that can you can count on to get a bucket. Charlotte needs a player that they can lean on when times get tough, a guy that that you can give the ball to, and they can grind out a basket.

(CJ McCollum, Isaiah Thomas, Brook Lopez)

A solid rebounder who can also play defense and contribute offensively.

(Zaza Pachulia, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul Millsap)

Rim Protection. The Hornet’s have no big man that can block/alter shots, while protecting the paint.

(Clint Capela, Serge Ibaka, Jerami Grant)

But who will the Hornets trade away to improve their team? The following is a list of possible players to ship away. Although some of these trade suggestions may be extreme, they are just ideas for discussion.

Al Jefferson

Although Al is a great contributor to the team, it may make sense to get rid of him while his value is still high. Also, Jefferson has been constantly plagued by injury. I believe he would one of the more elite centers if he could stay healthy, but that’s the problem. Charlotte could trade for better interior defense and rebounding. I don’t think Jefferson will be moved because he can serve as a mentor to the young players on the team, especially to low post players like Zeller and Kaminsky.

images.jpeg

(http://goo.gl/IkeUfm)

Kemba Walker

Although the franchise has basically been built around Walker, his dismissal could possibly spark something for the team. Also, Jeremy Lin has played well this season, and some argue that he should be the starting PG. Kemba is a great guard, and probably my favorite Bobcat ever, but while playing in Charlotte, he has never found any winning success. Is it time to part ways with Kemba and get a new point guard? Walker has great trade value, and the Hornets could get a decent trade with him. I believe that Charlotte needs someone like Damian Lilliard, a player that can take over the game and create points.

Unknown-1.jpeg

(http://goo.gl/Oyztl1)

P.J. Hairston

Hairston is still trying to find his way in the NBA as he has only played in 77 games. But the production from P.J. has just not been there, and he has failed to find any real consistency. There have been games where he has knocked down a couple threes and found himself in double figures, but there have also been several games where he didn’t score at all. I believe that P.J. could be thrown into a package deal in hopes of landing a decent starter.

Unknown-2.jpeg

(http://goo.gl/JkA96M)

Rumors

It has been rumored that the Hornets are interested in Bojan Bogdanovic of the Nets. Bogdanovic is a young scorer who struggled to find his place earlier in the season, but as of lately has been putting up some pretty good numbers. In his last 10 games, he has averaged 12.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG.

Unknown-3.jpeg

(http://goo.gl/JkA96M)

 

 

Game Recap: Hornets Vs. Celtics 12/23/15

By Trace Walker ()

Last year, I failed to make it to a Hornet’s game, so Wednesday nights game against the Celtics was my first game in the new hive. Although the Hornets played as if they were still the Bobcats, it was a great pleasure to see how much things have changed since the return of the Hornets. There seems to be a new found energy in the crowd at Time Warner Cable arena that wasn’t there when it was home to the ‘Cats.

IMG_0656.JPG

As for the game, I was disappointed to not see the Hornets come together and play as a team as they have in other games this season. There just seemed to be no flow in the game and the Hornets reverted to playing one on one, isolation basketball. Every time the team started to get something going, it was like the momentum would be immediately crushed by one thing or another.

P.J. Hairston started the game but only ended up playing twelve minutes as he couldn’t knock down wide open shots while giving up multiple offensive rebounds to the Celtics.

pj-hairston-3

The Hornets couldn’t get any rhythm in the first quarter as they were taking terrible shots, and the good ones they did take, just wouldn’t fall. They also were called for four 3 second violations (They still call those in the NBA??) in the first quarter, which is just absurd.

The game was never really close at any point, and the Hornets fell behind by 20 in the 3rd quarter. The team tried to make a run for the game in the fourth but comeback hopes were squashed when a Frank Kaminsky and-1 was overturned and called an offensive foul. There were also two clear blocks by Hornet players that were called fouls and sent Boston players to the line.

Frank Kaminsky was the high scorer for Charlotte as he had a career high of twenty-three. It was an impressive night for Frank, but it also highlighted his need for future improvement. Kaminsky may have dropped 23, but he also took twenty shots and missed multiple attempts that I feel like he should of made. It was great though to see him knock down some long balls, and showcase some post moves.

I was also disappointed that Jeremy Lin was not rocking his signature mohawk on this night and had his hair down. Lin, alongside fellow guard, Kemba Walker, couldn’t get anything going, between the two, they shot a lowly 30%.

120715-nba-Charlotte-Hornets-pi-mp.vadapt.620.high.13

(http://goo.gl/pfWyLC)

The Celtics are no slouch of an opponent as this is the second time they have beaten the Hornets this year. Boston had a very distributed scoring output, five players finished in double figures: Olynyk (20), Crowder (19), Bradley (18), Thomas (18), and Lee (10). After a disappointing last couple seasons, the Celtics have played well, starting the year 16-13.

Isaiah-Thomas-Boston-Celtics-640x362

It was good to see Physco T get some playing time, Hansborough played solid defense and grabbed three rebounds in eight minutes. Surprisingly, Tyler had the highest +/- of any Hornets player on the night.

RAL.tyler

There was also some brotherly love in the post Wednesday night. Hornet’s forward, Cody Zeller, got to match up with his brother, Tyler Zeller, who plays forward for the Celtics. Cody had the better game as he had seven points, ten rebounds compared to Tyler’s two points, one rebound. Tyler will have the bragging rights at the Zeller Christmas though, due to his Boston team being 2-0 against Charlotte.

ZellersWireFile

After a hot start to the season, the Hornets have cooled down. Just last week the team was found in the top five in the East, but have dropped to tenth after losing five of the last six. Looking forward, hopefully the Hornets can get back on track. The team has been without their center, Al Jefferson, for a month.  It was clear to me how much the Hornets missed their big man. The absence of Big Al left the team with no real big men, and no dominant rebounder. Hopefully his presence will help Charlotte return to their winning ways.

Hugo the Hornet showed up ready for the Holiday buzz on Wednesday night.

Game leaders

Hornets

Points- Kaminsky (23)
Rebounds- Zeller (8)
Assist- Batum (7)

Celtics

Points- Olynyk (20)
Rebounds- Crowder (12)
Assist- Thomas (7)

A Case For a MVP Not Named Curry

By Trace Walker

After a long history of bad draft picks and misfortune, the Hornet franchise have found a diamond in the rough in Nicolas Batum.092915-NBA-Hornets--Nicolas-Batum-pi-ssm.vresize.1200.675.high.42

(foxsports.com)

Summer of 2014

In 2014, Charlotte missed out on signing Gordon Hayward as the Jazz matched his contract offer. The Hornets settled with free-agent Lance Stephenson, a triple double machine for Indiana. Lance was supposed to be the superstar Charlotte never had, but in reality, Stephenson brought the team a 17% three point percentage along with over two turnovers a game.102414_lance.jpg

(cbssports.com)

2015 free agency

Going into the ’15 summer, there was a very hot free-agent market  that included LaMarcus Aldridge, Marco Belinelli, Deandre Jordan, Greg Monroe, and Rajon Rondo. Charlotte signed Nicolas Batum on June 24 in a trade in which the Trailblazers received Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh. Batum has been the rock for the Hornet’s offense this year as he has been averaging 17 PPG, a career high. Nic has also been averaging career highs in rebounds (6.7) and assists (4.7).

150720_batum_inside.jpg

(nba.com)

Who is Nic Batum?

Batum, a frenchmen, has played seven NBA seasons, all of which were previously with the Portland Trailblazers. He also played for Le Mans, a French basketball club. Batum is a skilled scorer who can get buckets inside and out. Nicolas is also a very efficient rebounder and smart player, while getting a lot of blocks for being a guard.

0f9a497f156873c34a5334f859bdc711_crop_north.jpg

(bleacherreport.com)

If the NBA season ended today, it would be hard seeing the MVP award given to anyone not on the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors started the season on the second longest winning streak in NBA history, only falling short to the 71-72 Lakers. Steph Curry has dominated the league and is looking to win his second consecutive MVP award, others may even argue that Draymond Green has a solid case as well. Green averages more assist (7) than Curry (6), while still putting up 14 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. The Warriors look unbeatable… (they actually are)

Even after losing a game to the Bucks, the Warriors are still on a higher tier than everyone else in the NBA.

stephen-curry--the-nbas-mvp--has-the-biggest-bargain-contract-in-the-league.jpg

(http://goo.gl/3PW0N0)

Although the MVP will most likely fall into the hands of a Warrior, I argue that Nicolas Batum is also a viable option for the award. The addition of Batum alongside others has completely revamped the Hornets offense. Last year the Charlotte team made 498 three pointers the entire season. This season,   the Hornets have already made 230 threes in only 23 games. That’s nearly half of what was made in the previous season. The Hornets are 14-9 and are first in the Southeast division, the team looks like a real playoff contender as they’ve tallied some impressive wins against the Bulls, Grizzlies, and Kings. Charlotte has also won in many different ways, blowing out teams, winning in OT, and making tremendous comebacks.

CWEb4ftWIAErqWA.jpg

(hornets.com)

Nicolas Batum is the glue that has held Charlotte together this season, and has proven to be able to do it all. Last week, Batum had a triple double in the third quarter as the Hornets demolished the Heat. Batum finished the game with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assist. It’s worthy to note the unselfish play of Nicolas as the last stat he reached double digits in was points.

The Hornets may not have proven their dominance in the Eastern conference quite yet, but the Charlotte team is quietly sitting at fourth in the East. Hopefully moving forward, Nic Batum can lead the Hornets to their first playoff series win. The city has long awaited the arrival of a superstar, but can Batum prove to be the savior of Charlotte basketball?

I sure hope so.