Hey Hornets, Get Yourselves Together Before Its too Late!

The season is slipping away from the Hornets as we move thru December, and unless they start playing with intensity for 48 minutes a night, a season that started with so much promise will join the stack of disappointing seasons in the Hornets history.  We are always told to be patient as fans, we are only 24 games into the season and we have a new coach….BLAH, BLAH, BLAH……  The honest truth is very simple, this team has zero margin of error in the second half of the season due to a very difficult schedule heavy with road games. The Hornets have 9 of the next 13 games at home and 2 of the road games are against struggling teams in the Nets and Knicks.  This stretch will end right after we toast to the New Year, the question is will we as fans be fired up about the future of this season….or will we be hung-over from drowning our sorrows as we watch the Hornets waste another season by underachieving? We have reached the part of the season where teams who were struggling early are starting to figure things out and we have slowly begun to slide down the standings. I have some thoughts on what we need to see (Besides 8 or 9 wins) before we reach January 3rd.

STOP THE MADNESS MR. BORREGO

While I have seen some positives from the new coach early this year, I do have a couple concerns.  While Frank has played fairly well of late, I don’t like the fact that Willy Hernangomez lost his spot in the rotation due to injury, and now has been stuck behind Biz in recent games. This can’t continue. Biz isn’t a part of the future of this team, and honestly shouldn’t be part of the present. In the Hornets loss to the T-wolves Biz played 4 minutes while the game was in question and was a -9. So please Mr. Borrego let Willy play, and let Biz go back to waving a towel.  Another issue is a closing line-up, WE HAVE TO DECIDE ON ONE! I saw a Tweet from noted Buzz Beat numbers guy Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) in reference to the Hornets 4th quarter lineups.

Hornets haven’t played a single 4th quarter lineup more than 12 minutes. Charlotte played 18 different Q4 lineups between 5-12 minutes.  Dec 4th 2018

Now don’t get me wrong, I get the need for experimentation, but this seems a little extreme. The coach needs to try and let players get used to performing in closing roles along side the same teammates in order to get more comfortable in the quarter that they seem to struggle so much in. We all know the Hornets have been insanely bad late in games, but this is something that will only be solved when players know what is expected of them when tight games happen.

PLAYERS MUST BRING IT, EVERY NIGHT

Guys are gonna miss shots, we know that and understand that, what I can’t deal with is not coning on the court with intensity on defense. This team flat out doesn’t have enough talent to get lazy on the defensive end. (See loses to 3 terrible teams so far this season) While the offense is still very dependent on the 3 point shot, the defense relies on energy and communication, which are things that players can control every time they step on the court. The defense has been sliding of late, and if it doesn’t turn around upcoming games vs. teams like the Lakers, Nuggets (twice) and Celtics could get really ugly early.

FANS MUST DO THEIR PART

These next 9 home games will be crucial to the Hornets success or failure this season. The only thing fans can truly control in this game is the home court advantage.  Get out and get loud, if you haven’t seen the team live in awhile make a trip uptown to be a part of helping the team. If you have season tickets, get a little louder than usual. Follow Bring Back The Buzz on twitter to get updates on cheap tickets for the games as well. The louder the stadium is the better chance the team has of making noise in the eastern conference.

This stretch starting tonight could possibly not only be the determining stretch of this season, but could ultimately lead to shaping the future of this franchise for years to come. If the Hornets can get hot and put themselves solidly in playoff contention as we hit the new year, it could force the franchise to go out and get another impact player via trade, However, if the Hornets fall flat on their faces and find themselves deep on the wrong side of .500 as the ball drops on New Years Eve, it could lead to one of the scariest words in sports…..”Rebuild”.

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Seriously, Kemba Walker has gotten better…..Again.

Its only 10 games, its early yet, lets not jump to conclusions…..These are all things we hear on podcasts and read on twitter as the NBA calendar hits November. Well, folks I have never been real good at listening to direction, and I am here to tell you right here right now, Kemba Walker is having a career year and its not going to stop. While Hornets fans are likely less surprised than the national NBA fans, the idea that Kemba has found another level is quite amazing, but anyone who has followed Kemba thus far should have seen this coming a mile away.

While we always see guys have a hot start every season that we know is not going to last, for example Blake Griffin is not going to shoot 46% from 3 all season, the boost we have seen in Kemba’s numbers are coming in less minutes per game than his previous 3 years. Walker has found a way to become more aggressive off the ball than we have seen before, his movement without the ball is becoming shooting guard like and his quick trigger coming off screens is leading to more open shots. While Kemba should get most of the credit for his improvement we have to give credit to James Borrego for helping Kemba reach his potential as well.

When JB took over the coaching duties this off-season it was clear he wanted to the Hornets to push the ball and make quick decisions. His philosophy based on space and pace plays right into Walker’s strengths and both a ball handler and scorer.  As fans we watched Kemba become underutilized last year due to the arrival of Dwight Howard. The focus of the offense became a guy who rarely passed, so once he received the ball in the paint, guys just stopped and watched. So the idea of a faster paced offense with more ball movement seemed like a perfect fit. So far the Hornets offense is buzzing and Kemba is posting career highs in points per game, true shooting percent, Player Efficiency Rating and shots per game. He is also taking 51 percent of his shots from three, while lowering his long range 2 point shots to only 9%.

Possibly the largest single improvement thus far this year has been Kemba’s defense. He has always been a capable defender but due to his burden on offense it was hard to blame him for not always going 100% on the defensive end of the floor. This year however the intensity shown from Kemba has been obvious from game one. He has always been good at drawing charges, but this season he is on pace for over 55 charges drawn, a career high by a mile. He also has done a great job slowing down bigger players when he gets switched onto them. He uses his low center of gravity and quick hands to keep players from getting where they want long enough for help to arrive.

The NBA is starting to take notice of what Kemba is doing early in this season, he won Eastern Conference player of the Week honors once already this season, and he is showing up on some Las Vegas MVP lists. The reality is unless the Hornets keep collecting wins that attention will fade as they fade in the standings. However, if the Hornets can continue to stay relevant and force their way into the play-offs as one of the surprise teams who over-achieve pre-season expections, Kemba could be on his way to his first All-NBA Team selection and possible first round series win, which I think we all can agree would cement him as the Franchise GOAT, no matter what some voters have said recently.