Hornets Attendance Is Tanking, Leaving Season Ticket Holders Feeling the Sting.

We all saw this coming, and it totally makes sense. The Hornet attendance numbers are dropping quicker than Devonte Graham three pointers, and it was most evident last night. I was watching on TV in rainy Seattle and it was very obvious that the stands were empty. No one blames the fans for not rushing to the arena on a Tuesday night to watch two bad teams battle it out for the crown of most mediocre. I am surprised at the rate the attendance numbers have dropped already, less than 1/3 of a season into the rebuild that the front office refuses to call a rebuild. When Jordan and Mitch made the call to not pay Kemba Walker market value, they knew they were going to take a loss at the gate, but I would love to talk to them after a few shots of Jordan’s new tequila and ask them if the realized how ugly it would get this fast.

THE NUMBERS

2018-2019  16,501  86.5% of capacity   23rd in NBA

2019-2020  15,054  78.9% of capacity   29th in NBA

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Now at first glance some might say, “That doesn’t seem so bad” but after hearing how the numbers got here you might see my point. I have been watching the numbers since the season started, and 5 home games in they were only down about 450 fans per night but in the next nine they have dropped another 1000. The team got a boost from Opening night and Kemba’s return game, but since then they are dropping quick. We all know the attendance numbers are tickets paid for, not butts in seats, and by my math we are going to see the numbers continue to trend downward. When teams like the Lakers and 76ers come in the arena, it will look better, but the reality is there will be far more midweek games vs. the Magic and Knicks that will continue to drag that number way down.

THE NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS

While the lack of interest is hurting the Hornets bottom line for sure, the innocent bystanders taking the brunt of the burden is the Season Ticket holders who were forced to make a decision on keeping their tickets before the team decided to re-set the roster. These folks are not only having to watch a team with no chance of the play-offs and them getting crushed by the better teams in the league but the re-sale market is absolutely non existent. Many season ticket holders lay out big bucks every year to keep supporting their team, and re-coup some of that investment on games that they can’t make it to. Many of these fans CAN’T EVEN GIVE THEM AWAY. I have talked to multiple fans on social media who have good Lower Bowl seats that can,t sell them for 25% of face value. For the Wizards game yesterday there were Lower Bowl seats that went unsold that were 15 bucks….are you kidding me….FIFTEEN DOLLARS! This makes me wonder how many of these fans will continue to shell out 5 to 8 grand for season tickets next season, which Jordan and Co. in the front office should be very worried about, because once those fans leave the overall numbers could get VERY ugly next year and beyond.

Are the Hornets really Better than We Thought, Or is Something Weird going On?

22 games into the Hornets season and many fans have expressed surprise about the team getting 8 early season wins thus far. I was one of many that expected this team to be bad, I mean real bad, like 20 wins bad. This got me thinking, was I this far off with my estimate as they are currently on a 31 win pace? Are they actually a more talented roster that we all thought? I decided to look at some numbers and really break down what we have been witnessing thus far this season. I think what I have found is quite interesting, and also troubling for those of us who hope to grab a high pick this year.

 

ARE THE HORNETS BAD?

Short answer, YES. The stats are horrendous folks. While we have seen Devonte Graham break out as one of the leaders for Most Improved Player, and P.J. Washington open many eyes with his break out start to his NBA career, the team as a whole is putting up terrible stats. Some of the Lowlights include.

  • 22nd in Offensive Rating   105.7
  • 29th in Defensive Rating  114.1
  • 27th in Net Rating  -8.4
  • 27th in Rebounding
  • 23rd in Turnovers
  • 25th in Pace
  • 30th in Opponents Field Goal %

In any other season those stats would make more sense if paired with a team struggling to win any games at all, not one currently in 9th in the East and 1.5 games out of the playoffs. The Hornets have more wins than 10 teams in the league and are tied with 5 other teams at 8! This team against current play-off teams has been horrible, thus far they are 1-10 and are losing by an average of 18 points. Their lone win was a tight home win against the Pacers, who were missing 3 starters. Clearly this team is what I thought they would be, a young team who would struggle to defend and go through droughts on the offensive end. So why are they looking like they will end up with the 11th pick again?

The reason the Hornets look a bit better in the standings then they do statistically is simple, the league is littered with REALLY, REALLY BAD TEAMS. We all knew the Knicks were gonna be a train wreck and that the young Grizzlies would struggle. There is always a small group of bottom dwellers that are in the 18-22 win range. I went back over the last 6 seasons to illustrate my point. And I understand we are only 22 games in, but the trend is alarming, especially for a team hunting for a top 5 pick. I broke teams into 3 levels.

  • Play-off teams .500 and above
  • play-off hopefuls  (37 wins)
  • Bad teams below (29 wins and below)

The averages for the last 6 years give us a good idea how the league usually breaks down.

  • 17 playoff teams
  • 21 playoff hopefuls
  • 6 bad teams

Currently in the NBA it breaks down like this

  • 14 playoff teams
  • 15 playoff hopefuls
  • 10 bad teams

So many teams are bad this year that only half the league is on pace for more than 37 wins, the previous low in the last six seasons is 19. Those extra 4 teams create the massive group of mediocre to bad teams that the Hornets are a part of right now. No one saw the Warriors only having 4 wins so far this season, but it is teams like the Blazers and Spurs that have really struggled early, and young teams like the Hawks and Kings  that have not taken that next step that we thought they would, that have thrown the balance out of whack. As a Hornets fan the idea of this weird season leading to this really bad team getting a pick outside of the top 5 is not ideal, but unless some of these teams start stacking up some wins its a very real possibility.