Hornets Sunday Scouting: 10/23-10/30

Amid our busy lives, it can be difficult to find the time every Hornets game day to properly research who the Hornets will be playing, how they have been playing, and how they match up with our boys from Buzz City. Sure it’s easy to follow teams like the Cavs or the Warriors who are constantly on ESPN, but what about teams like Portland or Utah? The media never talks about them so it’s hard to keep up. But, no need to fear, because throughout the season I will be providing your weekly one-stop scouting report on all the Hornets’ upcoming opponents.

 

Full disclaimer, I am a numbers guy, so expect to see lots of stats. The hope is that when you turn on the game, you will have a better understanding of places that the Hornets should succeed against a particular opponent and places that might be a point of concern. As always, I would love to discuss your thoughts and opinions on my scouting, so hmu on Twitter @dallaswpeyton18

 

@ Milwaukee Bucks (2-1)                                                                  Monday, 10/23 at 8pm

 

Matchup Overview:Image result for charlotte hornets vs milwaukee

(Image from At the Hive)

On Monday night, the Hornets will take on the Bucks for the first time this season. The two teams met 3 times last season with the Bucks taking 2 of the 3 on the year. The Hornets, coming off of 2 days of rest, will be hoping to push their record above .500 with a win. The Bucks meanwhile are coming off a 2-game home-stand that finished up Saturday night and hope to begin a push towards the top of the Eastern Conference.

 

Recent Form:

 

The Bucks have started off the season with a tough slate of games against 3 playoff teams from last year. Yet, they still find themselves at 2-1 after a nice road win over the Hayward-less Celtics and a 3-point home win over the Blazers. Their lone loss is a 19-point blowout at the hands of the Cavs.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for giannis dunk

(Image from NBA.com)

Giannis, Giannis, and more Giannis. The Greek Freak is BALLING to start the season and is averaging 38.3 ppg, 5 apg, and 9.7 rpg in the young season. 3 games is an extremely small sample size but those numbers are still out of this world considering that he is leading the league in PER by a significant margin. Outside of that, there is not much to speak of on this roster. The Bucks have yet to have a player not named Giannis score over 20 points in a game. Malcolm Brogden is the only other player worth noting, as the second-year player out of UVA has upped his ppg by 6 points to 16 and is shooting the 3 at a 50% clip.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 24th in DEFRTG

 

The Hornets have not started the season all that well on offense, the 3rd quarter against Atlanta notwithstanding. But the Bucks will come into the matchup ranked 24th in DEFRTG which bodes well for the Hornets.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 2 practices

Giannis is one of the toughest players in the league to defend, and the only player on the Hornets roster with the athleticism to possibly cause Giannis some trouble is MKG. The problem is that MKG has been away from the team dealing personal matters and has only practiced twice since returning on Saturday.

 

Matchups to Watch:

 

Thon Maker v. Dwight Howard. At 7-1, the Bucks are hope that the 20 year-old Maker will develop into a solid player at the NBA level. And he has done well to gain the starting role over 7-year vet Greg Monroe, but Howard has about 12 years and 30 pounds on him. The Hornets hope that Howard will be able to bully the slighter man on the inside in the same way he was able to against the Hawks. This matchup might well prove vital for either team if they are going to be successful in this game.

 

Malcolm Brogden v. Kemba Walker. We all know what Kemba can do. He was Charlotte’s first all-star since Gerald Wallace and has gotten better each and every year in the league. Brogden, on the other hand, is a lesser known commodity. At 6’5, he has quite a bit of size on the smaller Walker, but also lacks a little bit when it comes to quickness. The key here will be whether Kemba, or whoever Clifford matches up on him, will be able to keep Malcolm off the scoreboard on the other end.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Giannis is going to get his regardless. The key to this game is whether the Hornets defense, 4th in DEFRTG, will be able to keep anyone else from helping Giannis out enough for the Bucks to win this game. Both teams are coming off at least one day of rest, so both should be well-rested for this matchup. The series might be important at the end of the season in determining seeding in a weak Eastern Conference, so the Hornets hope to start it off with a win.

 

Denver Nuggets (1-1) Wednesday, 10/25 at 7pm

 

Matchup Overview:

Image result for charlotte hornets vs nuggets

(Image from NBA.com)

On Wednesday night, the Hornets will begin a 3 game home-stand with their first matchup against the Nuggets. The two teams met 2 times last season with the Hornets sweeping the season series. The Nuggets play Monday night against John Wall and the Wizards in Denver before traveling cross country for the tilt with Charlotte. Last year, the Nuggets barely missed the playoffs and are expected by many to compete for one of the last few spots in the West this upcoming season.

 

Recent Form:

The Nuggets started off the season with a double-digit loss to Utah away before picking up their first win at home against the Kings. That game against the Wizards might go a long way towards showing us what kind of team Denver is going to be this year.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for nuggets paul millsap

Image from The Denver Post)

Summer-addition, Paul Milsap has been off to a fairly hot start in his new home with his averages sitting at around 18 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Shooting guard, Will Barton, has also gotten off the mark quickly and leads the team in scoring while still managing to keep his fg % and 3pfg % above 50%. Another unheralded player worth mentioning is Nikola Jokic who is only averaging 3 points per game but has been able to contribute with over 10 rebounds and 7 assists per game. His ability to pass out of the post has been a major factor in the Nuggets posting the 3rd highest Assist % in the league so far.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 5.5 Steals/game

 

The Hornets have been uncharacteristically bad about giving the ball away so far this season and average more turnovers than every other team except 2. The good news about this matchup is that the Nuggets are one of the worst teams in the league at taking the ball away, which might help the Hornets throw off these early season cobwebs.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 92.5 ppg

 

The Nuggets have been one of the stingiest defenses so far this season, and have only allowed their opponents to score around 92 points a game. This is a small sample size, but could spell trouble for a Hornets squad that is near the bottom of the league in both scoring and offensive rating.

 

Matchup to Watch:

 

Paul Milsap v. Marvin Williams. Marvin Williams is typically one of the better defenders that the Hornets have to offer, but he seemed to struggle more last year then he did in the Hornets last playoff appearance in 2015-16. In this matchup, he is going against the crafty Milsap who has made a career scoring in the low post. The hope is that the presence of Howard in the middle to block shots will influence Milsap’s game on one end, and Williams ability to step out and knock down 3’s on the other end (we think?) could help space the floor.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Nuggets are a talented, young team that is hungry to make the playoffs after last season’s failure. But on a trip across country to face a well-organized Hornets defense who will be playing in front of their home crowd, the expectation is that the Hornets will be able to come away with the win.

 

Houston (3-0) Friday, 10/27 at 7pm

 

Matchup Overview:

Image result for charlotte hornets vs rockets

(Image from Sports Chat Place)

Unrelated, I don’t know where this picture has been my whole life, but it’s everything I could ever ask for. Anyway…on to the match up.

On Friday night, the Hornets will play game 2 of a 3-game home-stand with their first matchup against the Rockets this season. The two teams met 2 times last season with the Rockets sweeping the season series. The Rockets play twice this week against the Grizzlies on Monday and the 76ers on Wednesday before their trip to Charlotte. The Rockets were one of the top 5 teams in the league last year and appear to be just as strong, if not stronger this year. A win here is expected from the Rockets perspective, but would be a huge confidence booster for the Hornets if they manage to pull it out.

 

Recent Form:

 

The Rockets have started off red hot with a win against the defending champs in California, to go alongside wins against the Kings and the Mavericks. The game against Memphis should be fun to watch on Monday and might go a long way towards determining how the Western Standings will look early in the season. The game against Philly shouldn’t be too tough for a team with as much talent as Houston.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for james harden

(Image from Forbes)

Who else can you start with besides James Harden? The bearded wonder is one of the best players in the league and has the stats to back it up. So far this season he is averaging around 28 ppg, 9 apg, and 4 rpg. These types of performances are what made him an MVP candidate last season. After Harden, the Rockets have guys like Eric Gordon (22.3 ppg) and Clint Capela (15.7 ppg 10.3 rebounds) who are more than capable of winning a game with their play.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 4 Weeks

 

Luckily for the Hornets, this matchup comes during a stretch when 9-time NBA All-star Chris Paul is more than likely going to be sidelined. Paul, acquired from the Clippers over the summer, is dealing with a left knee injury and is expected to miss up to 4 weeks.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 111.3 ppg

The Rockets have one of the highest scoring offenses in the league and will look to get it going against the Hornets on Friday.  They are currently averaging 111 points per game which is in the top 10 in the NBA so far this season.

 

Matchup to Watch:

Image result for james harden kemba walker

(Image from Zimbio

James Harden v. Jeremy Lamb/Kemba Walker/ Whoever ends up with this assignment. This matchup will hinge almost entirely on the defensive side of the ball for the Hornets. Harden is not known for his defense, so whoever ends up drawing him on the offensive end should look to take advantage matchup for the Hornets. On the other side, the question is who will be able to slow down the Beard. With Paul out, Harden is in the top 10 in the league in usage percentage meaning that whoever is guarding him is going to be have to be turned on throughout the entire possession. If they can force the ball out of his hands, or force him to take bad shots, they might have a chance at the upset.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Rockets are deep and experienced and will provide a major measuring stick of where the Hornets are at this point in the season. Realistically and statistically, it will appear that the Hornets should be happy if they can merely manage to keep the game close, but I believe this Hornets team could be something special, and this game is one of their first chances to prove that.

 

Orlando (2-1) Sunday, 10/29 at 6pm

 

Matchup Overview:

Image result for charlotte hornets vs magic

(Image from FanPicks)

On Sunday night, the Hornets will play host to the Orlando Magic for their first meeting of the season. The game will be the last of a 3 game home series for the Hornets and the first night of a dreaded home and away back-to-back. Meanwhile the Magic have a home game against the Nets on Tuesday and the Spurs on Friday before this meeting in the Queen City. The teams met 4 times last year with the Hornets managing to take all 4 meetings.

 

Recent Form:

 

The Magic are one of the most surprising teams at the beginning of this NBA season. They have knocked off the Heat at home and the Cavs in Cleveland with their lone loss coming against the Brooklyn Nets. It is hard to figure out what to make of them because the win against the Cavs is very impressive but the loss to the Nets is a bad loss. The two games leading up to this matchup should give a better idea of what the Hornets should expect.

 

Key Players and Recent Performers:

Image result for vucevic

(Image from Orlando Magic Daily)

Vucevic has been by far their best player so far, posting a line of 27.7 ppg, 10.7 rebounds, 3 apg, and 1.67 bpg all while shooting nearly 70% from the floor. The 26-year-old from Switzerland has been a force to be reckoned with and looks to continue his hot run. Behind him, Aaron Gordan and Evan Fournier are both scoring the ball at high rates while also contributing rebounds and assists. Overall, the Magic seem to have a roster full of guys who are contributing to team success, like Elfrid Payton, DJ Augustine, and Terrance Ross. At some point, you would expect these stats to begin to regress closer to career averages, but for now it is working for Orlando.

 

Key Team Stats:

 

One Positive for the Hornets: 26.3 FT attempted

 

The Hornets are in the top 6 in the league in FT attempted, while the Magic are in the bottom 10 teams in the league in terms of allowing the opponent to get to the FT line. The Magic are currently allowing their opponents to shoot over 26 free throws per game, meaning that the Hornets might be able to take advantage of this to get some free points.

 

One Negative for the Hornets: 48.3% 3-point fg %

 

The Magic are shooting the ball lights out right now and have one of the best offenses in the league to show for it. They are 5th in the league in ppg at 117, 6th in fg % at 47.6% and 2nd in 3 pfg % at 48.6%. One thing is for sure, they can score the ball efficiently and in bunches.

 

 

Matchup to Watch:

Image result for vucevic v Howard

(Image from Zimbio)

Vucevic v. Dwight Howard. This one will feature an old Magic center versus the new face of their franchise in a game that could showcase an important battle in the paint. The Hornets will hope that Howard will regain some of his DPOY form and will be able to keep Vucevic from getting the easy looks that he has managed to find so far this season. If Howard can successfully make him a jump shooter then the team will be better positioned to be successful because they can minimize the effectiveness of the Magic’s inside out game. On the other end, the key for the Hornets in this match up will be to effective use pick and roll to get Vucevic away from the basketball and into foul trouble. If they can do these things, the Hornets should be able to do enough against a mediocre Orlando defense to get a win at home.

 

Final Thoughts:

 

The Magic are a young team with many different pieces on the roster that have the potential to be good players in this league. That being said, I don’t expect Vucevic to continue to perform at an MVP level and I also expect some of the other players to regress some as well. But, they still have the potential to snatch a game from the Hornets if they are not careful, so hopefully the Hornets will be up for this one in front of their home crowd.

 

 

Predictions for the Week:

 

This can be tough to predict games that won’t take place for a week, but I will give it my best shot.

 

L @ Milwaukee: I think Giannis will be too much to handle and the Hornets will fall in this one.

 

W v. Denver: Howard will dominate the paint and the Hornets will take this one at home.

 

L v. Houston: Houston is one of the best teams in the league and I think they will show it in this one.

 

W v. Magic: Orlando has some good pieces but I think Charlotte’s defense might give them some trouble and the Hornets will finish their home-stand 2-1

 

Image result for charlotte Hornets yell

(From BBTB)

 

The Forgotten Hornet: Cody Zeller

By Trace Walker  ()

Photo Credits to Sam Sharpe of USA Today Sports

The 2013 NBA draft was not the most star-studded draft in NBA history. In retrospect, the best players to come out of it were Victor Oladipo, C.J. McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo,  and Steven Adams. With the fourth pick of the draft, the Charlotte Bobcats selected Cody Zeller out of Indiana University.

Since then, Zeller hasn’t quite lived up to producing the numbers that are expected from a top-five pick. That’s okay though–Zeller knows his role on the team and plays it well; providing tremendous hustle, decent rim protection, and some rim rattling dunks.

Cody is currently having his best season as a pro; averaging nearly 11 points, a significant increase from his career average of 8 PPG. What’s impressive about this, is that Zeller basically gets zero plays called specifically for him. Cody mainly scores after initiating a pick for his teammates and rolling to the basket where the ball handler hits him for a dunk or layup. Other than that, Zeller gets his touches and buckets by fighting for 50/50 balls and offensive rebounds.

This play is a perfect example of what Zeller has been doing all season, pointed out by @Nick_Sciria, Cody battles KAT for the defensive rebound, runs the floor then gets two offensive rebounds, eventually setting Kemba up for a layup.

Cody Zeller can often be forgotten on the Hornets because his determination and grit isn’t as pretty as Kemba’s step-back or as smooth as Nic Batum but Zeller is still a crucial piece of the team. To show Charlotte’s appreciation for Cody, I made this video which showcases some of his best plays so far this season.

The Hornets are back in action in Zeller’s home state of Indiana tonight, December 12th 2016, catch the game at 7:00.

Bring Back the Crash? Fan Starts Petition to Have Franchise Honor Gerald Wallace

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 1: Michael Jordan coaching Gerald Wallace #3 of the Charlotte Bobcats against the Miami Heat on November 1, 2008 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Jordan;Gerald Wallace

CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 1: Michael Jordan coaching Gerald Wallace #3 of the Charlotte Bobcats against the Miami Heat on November 1, 2008 (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

 

Zac Fleming messaged us and said that the organization needed to bring back Gerald Wallace and honor him. His idea was to bring Gerald on for a one day contract and let him retire in Charlotte. He then asked us what would be the best way to get that done? A Petition? We said “you get it started and we will push it.”

Before you start on about saying Gerald Wallace didn’t do enough, take a look at these…

Gerald Wallace’s Placement In Franchise History Stats.
(Keep in mind this includes old Hornets)

#2 Most Points
#3 Most Steals
#3 Games Played
#3 Minutes Played
#3 Most Rebounds
#3 Most Blocks
#4 Most Seasons

That is pretty impressive towering above the modern day squad and hanging in Franchise stat company with long time Hornets like Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry. Oh and let’s not forget…

 

So if that swayed your opinion in any way check out the petition below and give it a sign…

https://www.change.org/p/charlotte-hornets-bringing-gerald-wallace-back-to-charlotte

 

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.

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.

 

Charlotte Basketball: More Excuses than Wins

IMG_2374.JPG

The Hornets have reached that point in the season that Charlotte basketball fans have become accustom to, the time period in which the losing begins to become so prevalent that you are forced to frantically search for potential trades that could hopefully shake things up enough to get us into the 8th seed. It has been long enough since the season started that injuries are starting to take over but the playoffs are too far away to motivate, at this point in the season most teams are just praying to get through January and reach the All-Star Break. Charlotte basketball fans have not seen a playoff win since the 2001-2002 season, to put that in perspective I was in 8th grade the last time we won a playoff game…….I am now 28. However, it is important that we as fans do not become complacent, demand better and continue to cheer on our team. With that being said, tonight’s game against the Hawks and every game until the All Star break is extremely crucial.

Now,  let’s take a look at this Hawks matchup tonight. The Hawks lead the overall series by 15 games, they are first in our division with a record of 23-15, and they’ve won the 2 previous meetings this season by a combined 5 points (including our home opener).  Now if you read the nationally written game previews they will tell you that Hawks score in the paint well and the Hornets don’t, while that is true the Hawks are almost dead last in the NBA in rebounding, this is a perfect opportunity for Cody Zeller to step up. Cody has been on a bit of a rebounding tear the past few games, he has been in the double-digits for boards 3 out of the last 5 games. If we can get our bigs to rebound we can eliminate those second chance points in the paint (Spencer, I am looking at you, it is time for you to have some kind of impact).

In the previous two matchups the Hornets have also shot much better from 3 than the Hawks, we are going to need that good perimeter shooting and perimeter defense we saw from the Hornets at the beginning of the year to happen tonight. While from the outside looking in, the Hawks would appear to be a heavy favorite, winning 15 out of their last 18 games, and the two previous matchups against the Hornets, however the Hornets are a much better team at home and are a better team at home than the Hawks are on the road.

It is time to stop making excuses for this team and this organization, this fanbase has waited almost 15 long years for a playoff win. The Hornets need to win and they need to win NOW. If Charlotte can get a string of wins going this month they could easily find themselves back in the playoff hunt, they are only 2.5 games back behind the 8th seeded Magic.

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.

 

What’s the Buzz? : Reminiscing on the 2011 Bobcats

By Trace Walker ()

As the Philadelphia 76ers won their first game of the season last week, I thought it would be a good time to reminisce on another team known for their losing, the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats. Although the Bobcats never found consistent success and only finished above .500 twice in franchise history, the 2011 team took losing to a whole new level. According to winning percentage, the Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history, finishing the year at 7-59 (.106). The Bobcats stole the title of worst season ever from the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers whom are now at a close second at 9-73 (.110).

Charlotte_Bobcats_2012

(https://goo.gl/XGk4fo)

One little weird commonality I found between the 1973 76ers and the 2011 Bobcats was that both had a player from Xavier University. Center Luther Rackley played for Philadelphia, while Derrick Brown played for the Bobcats, both Xavier alumni. This may not seem significant, but the Cincinnati university has only birthed 17 NBA players. In comparison, the University of Kentucky has produced 90 NBA players. It’s interesting to me that out of the thousands of players that have been in the NBA, two of seventeen Xavier players found themselves on the worst two teams to ever play in the league.

111210_dbrown_main 11142014-FSO-CBK-XavierCourt-PI.vadapt.620.high.75

(http://goo.gl/mD1kuP)

 

(http://goo.gl/Ct0dcO)

7 wins.

This year it took the Golden State Warriors only eleven days to record 7 wins. Yet in 2011, 7 wins was all the Bobcats could muster. You may ask yourself; how is it even possible to win that few games. What must go wrong to be that bad? Well, to answer that shortly, a lot. A lot must go wrong.

For starters, just by taking a look at the roster, there is a mixture of players at the end of their careers and players just beginning theirs. In 2009, the average NBA player had been in the league for five years. Five years of being in the NBA puts most players at about 27, which was the average age of a NBA player in 2009. Most people also acknowledge 27 as the age when athletes are in their prime and playing their best. This may help give an explanation as to why the Bobcats were so awful. The 2011 team only had two players (Shaun Livingston and Tyus Thomas) whom had between 4-6 years experience in the NBA. As stated earlier, the Bobcats consisted of very young players and very old players. There were eight players that had played three or less seasons, while there were nine players whom had played in seven seasons or more. This mixture of young, and seasoned players was a recipe for disaster in Charlotte.

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 3.48.16 PM.png

The graph shows the extreme imbalance of youth and age on the Bobcats

As stated earlier, the Bobcats consisted of very young players and very old players. There were eight players that had played three or less seasons, while there were nine players whom had played in seven seasons or more. This mixture of young, and seasoned players was a recipe for disaster in Charlotte.

Much like the 76ers who just ended their 28 game losing streak, the 2011 Bobcats were no stranger to losing streaks. During the season, Charlotte lost twenty three consecutive games. That streak being tied for the fifth longest losing streak in NBA history.

138692985_crop_north.jpg

(http://goo.gl/rUIFzf)

 

Draft Troubles

Another cause of Charlotte’s troubles was misfortune in just about every draft they ever participated in. Here is a look at what happened in each draft year and what could have been.

2003 draft

The Bobcats didn’t enter the NBA until 2004, which was unfortunate because the 2003 draft is known as one of the richest classes ever. If Charlotte had been in the 2003 draft they would of had the chance to land talent such as Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade.

2004 draft

The Bobcats chose Emeka Okafor with the number two pick. Okafor was dominant his first year, averaging a double-double with 15.1 PPG and 10.9 RPG. Emeka received rookie of the year honors in his first season, but after that Okafor gained weight and never reached his full potential. The Bobcats missed out on Dwight Howard as he was taken first by the Orlando Magic. In reflection there was much talent in the draft and a different pick would have been very beneficial. Charlotte could have went with Devin Harris, Luol Deng, or Andre Iguodala.i

(http://goo.gl/aQXzQa)

2005 draft

In 2005, the Bobcats had the fifth pick of the draft. Superstar Chris Paul was taken fourth by New Orleans, followed by the Bobcat’s pick, Raymond Felton. Felton played five seasons for Charlotte and was a solid contributor. During his years in Charlotte, Raymond averaged 13.3 points per game, while dishing out 6.4 assist per game. Felton had his breakout year the season after he left Charlotte when he averaged 17.1 PPG and 9 ASP.

Raymond+Felton+Charlotte+Bobcats+v+Orlando+QrS7O8wcJBYl

(http://goo.gl/Mw1f6q)

2006 draft

In the 2006 draft, Charlotte missed out on another chance in drafting a foundation for the franchise. All-star LaMarcus Aldridge was taken with the second pick. With the third pick, the Bobcats selected Adam Morrison from Gonzaga. Morrison played only four NBA seasons, two of which came with Charlotte. Morrison’s rookie season was his best as a pro, he averaged 11.8 points and started in 23 games. After that first year, Morrison never averaged more than five points. After two years in Charlotte, Morrison went to the Lakers where he averaged 1.3 PPG. Adam Morrison was a bust and looking back there are many players that could have been chosen instead. These include; Rudy Gay, J.J. Redick, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, or Paul Millsap.

hair-raising-athletes-adam-morrison

(http://goo.gl/v12dVl)

2008 draft

In 2008 Charlotte missed out on the landing of a superstar in yet another strong draft class which included Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Deandre Jordan, and Goran Dragic. Using the ninth pick, the Bobcats selected guard D.J. Augustin. Augustin started in only fourteen games during his first two years for Charlotte while averaging 10.85 points per game.

109733784_crop_north

(http://goo.gl/1CptyX)

2009 draft

The Bobcats fell out of the top ten picks in 2009, they used the twelfth pick to select Gerald Henderson. Henderson gave Charlotte quality playing time as he was there from 2009 until 2015 when he was traded to Portland. In the 2009 draft class there was tremendous talent in the top ten which included Stephen Curry, Demar DeRozan, Blake Griffin, James Harden, and Ricky Rubio.

3-KEYS-TO-CATS-VICTORY4

(http://goo.gl/Kmpb9e)

2011 draft

In the 2001 draft Charlotte had two top ten picks, they selected Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker. After playing four years and averaging 4.4 PPG, Bismack was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Kemba is still currently playing for the Bobcats/Hornets. After averaging 12 points a game his rookie year, Walker has consistently averaged 17+ the last three seasons. Charlotte could have used their two picks to select Brandon Knight, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, or Jimmy Butler.

Unknown.jpeg

(http://goo.gl/Muciww)

PI-NBA-Hornets-Kemba-Walker-102914.vresize.1200.675.high.93

2012 draft

After the worst NBA season in history, the Bobcats were guaranteed the number one draft pick…. right?

Wrong. The New Orleans Hornets received the first pick and selected All-Star Anthony Davis. The Bobcats were left with the number two pick which they used to select fellow Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Now as much as I might love MKG, Anthony Davis is proving to be one of the greatest talents ever seen in basketball. In 2014 Davis averaged 24.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 2.9 BPG. For comparison, in 2014 Gilchrist averaged 10.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, .7 BPG. Charlotte could have used the second pick to select Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lilliard, or Andre Drummond.

mkg.jpg

(http://goo.gl/yaJBzf)

2013 draft

The 2013 draft was one of the lesser star studded drafts in recent history. The top five included Anthony Bennett, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Cody Zeller, and Alex Len. 

Charlotte selected forward Cody Zeller with the fourth pick. Since joining the team Zeller has averaged 6.7 PPG.

images

Clearly Charlotte has missed landing a superstar or two… I believe that their terrible draft history led up to the worst NBA season ever.

 

i-10

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

Before Charlotte picked the purple and teal back up, there was the eye-sore combination of orange and dark blue.

images.jpeg

There was also the infamous race day jerseys which payed homage to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

14-bobcats-racer

(http://goo.gl/2BMvRw)

This post is also a fitting place to remember the sole All-Star in Charlotte Bobcat history, Gerald Wallace.

090921_jersey_inside2.jpg

(NBA.com)

In the 2009-2010 season, Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats to there first playoff berth ever. The playoffs were short-lived though, as the Bobcats were swept in four games by the Orlando Magic. That season Gerald also made his first and only All-Star game while averaging 18.2 PPG and 10 RPG.

We must also pay homage to Rufus, the lovable Bobcat that roamed games at Time Warner Cable Arena.

1112-Ent-Rufus.jpg

(http://goo.gl/VcpPBZ)

Being a Bobcats fan was not the easiest thing in the world, watching year after year seeing the Charlotte team be the laughing stock of the league. Knicks Bobcats Basketball

(http://goo.gl/WkmH8E)

Some fans even begged for Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to come out of retirement to suit up for the team.

michael_jordan_owner.jpg

(http://goo.gl/foDJT0)

But as I write this, the Hornets sit at 12-8. Things are looking up for Charlotte as the young team is testing the waters in the Eastern Conference.

i-12

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

BUZZ WEEKLY: HORNETS GET HOT AT HOME, UNBEATEN WARRIORS ON DECK

i-9

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

There’s no place like home. That certainly seems to be the case for the Charlotte Hornets as they have taken full advantage of a recent homestand, going 5-1 during that span, with the one loss being a tightly contested game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

The team is playing well, their defense isn’t quite what it has been in years past but it is still stout enough to be ranked tenth in the league in defensive efficiency. And part of the increase in points allowed could be attributed to the increase in pace on offense, as the Hornets are fifth in the league in offensive efficiency.

 

They are tops in the league in protecting the ball, always a point that has been stressed by Clifford coached teams. They also rebound defensively at a high rate but they leave much to be desired on the offensive glass, where they rank dead last. Still, the early returns on a team that has only played together for a few months are encouraging, and it’s hard to think that the chemistry won’t improve with time.

 

Nic Batum is becoming the player that he was brought in to be; a heady player that can help facilitate the offense while also having the versatility to create for himself as a scorer. He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well the past few games and he has the tendency to turn the ball over, but he is becoming more aggressive in his role as a leader and he always helps the team in other areas with his all around skill set.

i-8

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

 

Batum’s numbers for the season are on par with some of the best to ever put on the purple and teal. If he keeps up this pace he will join Jamal Mashburn and the late Anthony Mason as the only Hornets to average 16+ points, 6+ rebounds, 4+ assists and 1+ steals per game. That’s certainly good company and it points to yet another reason that the Hornets should retain Batum’s services for the future.

 

i-11

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

 

Kemba Walker has started to hit his stride as well, particularly in a 39-point outburst in an overtime win against the Kings. He has been shooting more efficiently from the field and has looked more comfortable as a facilitator on the floor.

 

Off the bench, the Hornets have continued to ride Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb, currently the NBA’s highest scoring reserve backcourt duo. Lamb has played great all season and continues to look like a steal for Charlotte. He has notched 13 games with 10-or-more points this season, only scoring in double figures 11 times in all of 2014-15. Lin has already logged four 15-or-more point performances in his first year in Charlotte. Lamb is averaging a career- best 12.8 points per game in 2015-16 and Lin is averaging 10.8 points per game.

 

i-10

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

 

 

 

LOOKING AHEAD TO DECEMBER…

 

After Wednesday, the Hornets will enter a December slate that features quite a few challenges along the way. As the standing sit now, every team on the schedule has a winning record except for the underperforming Wizards, the .500 Pistons and the hapless Los Angeles Lakers; and by no means should the Hornets look past those three opponents.

 

The Hornets are 10-7 overall, and 8-2 at home going into Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. The game will be the last of seven straight home games and Charlotte will need to be hitting on all cylinders to beat the Warriors, who are on a historic 19-0 start to their season. But all good things must come to an end, so why can’t the Hornets be the ones to break the Warriors win streak?

 

stephen-curry-kemba-walker-nba-charlotte-hornets-golden-state-warriors-850x560

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

 

 

To say this is a big game is an understatement. While Charlotte certainly doesn’t want to get caught up in a track meet style scoring battle with the defending NBA champs they do have the offensive firepower to keep up as long as they can play solid defense against a team that has been moving the ball as crisp as anyone so far this year.

 

The Hornets pushed the Cavs to the brink in a hard fought game a few days ago, so who’s to say that they can’t pull off the upset on Wednesday? A victory could serve as a HUGE punctuation mark for a Charlotte team that is on the rise.

 

The Hornets played the Warriors twice last season; they lost the first game out west by 25, but in Charlotte they carried a lead into the fourth quarter before eventually falling by five…and that was with last season’s slow paced offense. So hypothetically, we can compete with the Warriors if we bring our A game.

 

Of course there’s always a buzz when Charlotte native and defending NBA MVP Stephen Curry comes to town. The Warriors also boast sharpshooter Klay Thompson and versatile forward Draymond Green, the teams leader in rebounding and assists.

 

The Warriors are deep so the Hornets depth will most likely be tested in this matchup. Golden State can take advantage of turnovers with their transition game so protecting the ball will be more key than ever in this game.

 

The Hornets need to come out focused in this game as well. They are 5-0 at home where leading after the first quarter and they are 8-0 whenever they score 100+ points. Just for fun, they’re also 4-0 at home on a Wednesday. They play their best when Batum is scoring the ball well, so getting him into a rhythm will be important for Charlotte.

 

The Hornets have been as stout as any team at home this season. They are averaging the most points per game at home in the Eastern Conference, with 107.8, the second most three-point field goals in the conference per game, with 10.0 per game at home, and they have logged the second most wins at home in the East (8-2).

 

Unfortunately, the Hornets will be playing most of December without veteran big man Al Jefferson though; he went down in the first quarter of Sunday’s win against the Bucks and is likely out for the next 2-3 weeks with a strained left calf.

 

The Hornets built depth in the frontcourt this offseason and it will be on display during the next few weeks as the team tries to make up for the absence of Jefferson. Cody Zeller will likely step into the starting role at center but the minutes will also be spread around to Spencer Hawes, rookie Frank Kaminsky and seldom used, fan favorite Tyler Hansbrough.

 

i-12

Photo credit (NBAE/Getty Images)

 

The Hornets haven’t looked this good in a very long time, it’s a great time to be a fan of our local professional sports teams! The games only get tougher and more meaningful from here on out. Until next time Hornets fans, KEEP BUZZING!!!

 

 

you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.