2015-16 NBA Record: 48-34
Additions: Roy Hibbert (Los Angeles Lakers), Ramon Sessions (Washington Wizards), Christian Wood (Philadelphia 76ers), Brian Roberts (Portland Trail Blazers)
Subtractions: Al Jefferson (Indiana Pacers), Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn Nets), Courtney Lee (New York Knicks)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Kemba Walker
SG – Nicholas Batum
SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF – Marvin Williams
C – Roy Hibbert
The loss of stars Jefferson, Lin and Lee shouldn’t make fans worried as the Hornets went out and signed veterans Roy Hibbert and Ramon Sessions, as well as Summer League standout Christian Wood. Although on paper they were big names, the three subtractions didn’t offer much during Charlotte’s season, so their losses aren’t so big. Charlotte also managed to retain Nicholas Batum and Marvin Williams, two big contributor’s to the teams’ success last year. These additions, as well as the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from injury should keep the Hornets as a playoff contender.
Kemba Walker is coming off a career year and is on the brink of an All-Star appearance. He’s developed a knack for scoring from anywhere, especially from range which was a struggle in the beginning of his career. His play-making-to-turnover ratio is one of the best in the NBA among guards and he should continue this strong form this year while he’s in his prime. Cardiac Kemba will need to work on being the top guy in clutch time, as he was ineffective in iso situations. Unless someone else steps up as the guy in crunch time, Walker will need to be at his best late in games. You could contribute Walker’s success to the signing of Nicholas Batum last season. The two seem to blend well together, with Batum’s playmaking skills allowing Walker to play off the ball more. Batum is a strong shooter and off-ball cutter, which gives Walker a nice compliment in the backcourt. Although Kemba initiates the offense, you can be assured that Batum can find that final pass to finish off the play. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a great permeter defender who has the speed to keep up with guards and the strength to handle big men. However, his two major concerns are offense and health. He’s one of the worst offensive options on the wing, which has held him from being one of the best players in his position. He’s also missed time in each of his four seasons, which has prevented fans from witnessing his development. Marvin Williams is a nice complimentary piece with his stretch-four spacing, but it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up as he hits his 30s. Roy Hibbert will be hoping to get back to his form in Indiana, where he was one of the best rim protectors in the league. After a waste of a season in LA, Hibbert combines with stretch big men Williams and Frank Kaminsky in Charlotte’s frontcourt. Cody Zeller is a great pick and roll option for Kemba Walker and contributes as an above-average rim protector with great instinctive play. Ramon Sessions was an efficient scorer during his time in Washington and will be a solid veteran back-up for Kemba. Frank Kaminsky will be hoping to improve from an average rookie campaign and his range for a big man could provide problems for other teams.
Charlotte is one of the top defensive sides under Steve Clifford and was one of five NBA teams who finished in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency. The addition of Roy Hibbert and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will increase their defensive ceiling, but they’ll be hoping not to suffer any injuries. If Walker and Batum are to miss time, that puts huge pressure on their offense and someone will have to step up as the go-to guy. The Hornets added some nice pieces this offseason to replace their big-name losses, which means they should still be competitive in the East.
Prediction: 2nd in Southeast Division