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.

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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.
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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.

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(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.

 

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(NBA)

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

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(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.

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(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.