The Charlotte Hornets are off to a really solid start to the season with a record of 14-10 which is good enough for 3rd in the Eastern Conference and currently lead the Southeast division. Head Coach Steve Clifford has established an effective offense and a tough defense. His tenure began in 2013 with 9-year vet Al Jefferson and a young promising player in Kemba Walker as his two best players. Since then, Charlotte has a team record of 134-129 which isn’t great but isn’t horrible seeing as though he started off with a team that lacked quality talent. Since Clifford’s first year, they’ve made the playoffs twice losing in the first round both times. Their stats in his time as coach are quite surprising averaging a league-best 12.2 turnovers per game, 8th in blocks at 5.3 per game, posting a 103.9 Defensive rating which is 6th best from 2013-2016. I believe Clifford can be the right coach for them going forward seeing as though defense wins Championships and he took his defense from 29th overall to a respectable top Five.
The Hornets re-signed SF Marvin Williams to a 4yr-$54.5M deal, coming off his highest three-point percentage made of 45.2%. Losing Al Jefferson this offseason will hurt because of the veteran leadership and inside paint presence but will help the growth and development of their upcoming front court in Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky. They also re-signed Nicolas Batum, traded for sharpshooter Marco Belinelli, and signed Ramon Sessions and Roy Hibbert to fill out their roster. These few but necessary moves has put the Hornets in prime position to make a playoff run in the Eastern Conference.
Walker is a star point guard in a league full of elite ones, he’s really an underappreciated player His 23.6 point per game ranks 14th in the NBA along with being top 20 in steals, win shares, and plus/minus. The quality around him has been shaky since his arrival and still is. Nicolas Batum is a really good player averaging 13.5 pts 7.3 rebounds 5.7 assist but the numbers don’t quite tell his entire story. He is a lengthy forward who can guard a multitude of positions, has a high IQ and can be a good shooter from 3 at times. With role players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, and Spencer Hawes, The Hornets have a good enough team to compete but I don’t see the talent offensively that can win games against the best of the East like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers or Atlanta Hawks. My prediction is that they will finish with around 45-50 wins after winning 48 games last season. They will go no further than the second round with the current talent they have. In order for the Charlotte Hornets to make a real run in the playoffs, they will need to acquire another All-Star caliber player.