I want to try to stop the panic right now about our current Charlotte Hornets and some losses that should have never happened. Did we lose to the lowly Sixers? Yes. Did we turn the ball over 19 times? Yes. Did we shoot below 34% from the field? YES! YES! YES! It’s all true! Fire the coach, trade everyone away, let’s tank the season to get a high draft pick! Everyone in the organization is stupid and me, “Joe Fan” knows what’s best for the team. Yeah, I’ve heard all that in the past week or 2. Amazingly, I’ve heard it every season for at least this year and the last 2. I’m only going to go back to the past 2 seasons and this current season to illustrate why we shouldn’t panic so much.
I wish I knew what causes the Hornets to slump at the end of December and January. If I did, I’d probably have a pretty solid job with the organization. I could just tell everyone at Thanksgiving that I was thankful to be working for the Charlotte Hornets, for Michael Jordan, for Rich Cho, and everyone else involved with the team. After I finished sharing my thanks, I’d make mention that we had better prepare for what is the roughest 6-8 weeks of the season. Those weeks are usually take place around Christmas week and last through the better part of January. I’d point out that it is officially “mid-season” and we have historically slumped. That way, everyone could start taking preventive measures to assure the players, the team, and the fans that everything is going to be OK. Precautions would be taken to limit minutes to keep everyone healthy. We could increase everyone’s vitamin intake, make them wear masks to prevent them from germs, do a little extra stretching, and maybe even wrap a few guys in bubble wrap, just to be sure we can glide right up to NBA All Star weekend with a reasonable record, minimal aches and pains, and some All-Star caliber player getting serious looks at participating in all-star weekend.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what causes this slump, I don’t work for the organization, and like many other fans, and I get discouraged when we lose games that should be easy wins on paper. Stuff happens. Over the last few months, Marco has had an ankle sprain. Cody has had a concussion and some sort of cold/illness. Nic had a hyperextended knee with no structural damage (thank the good Lord). Jeremy Lamb has had a strained hamstring and more recently a sprained toe. Roy Hibbert…well…I don’t exactly know what’s wrong with his knee, but he moves like his leg may fall off. Roy’s still toughing it out though. My point is that at mid-season, for whatever reason, our guys are either banged up or are recovering from being banged up. Lesser teams that haven’t been winning games may have starters that have played less minutes or something, and the result becomes much more energized players, healthier players…something like that, and it gives them just enough of a boost to beat the better teams. For us, this season isn’t as bad as many seasons past. We’re sitting at 20-20. Aside from Lamb’s toe, Batum, Zeller, and Marco are all back on the court looking to get back into the groove and rhythm. We’re basically a game away from what can be officially called “mid-season” for us. There are a few things that need to be ironed out, but I believe that we will still finish strong before the all-star break. Frank is in a sophomore slump where he looks lost for several games, and then he puts up 22 points in 21 minutes, shooting 57% from the floor and connecting on 4-9 from 3-point range. He’s right there at that turning point, and I think he can do it. He just needs a little more time.
I keep referring to years past and how this always seems to happen to us at this time of year. I’ll jump back 1 season for you. Last year, the team was 21-23. I know that’s not exactly mid-season, but you get my basic point. Are you ready for the injury rundown?
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Shoulder (basically lost for the season)
Al Jefferson – Calf strain, drug suspension, torn meniscus repair
Nic Batum – Sprained Toe
Jeremy Lin – Sprained Ankle
Jeremy Lamb – Sprained Toe
Cody Zeller – Strained shoulder (after a rotator cuff repair during the summer)
Best I can recall, we were fighting at the end of the season for the #3 seed in the playoffs and only a tiebreaker amongst a multi-way tie put us at 6. Then, we took the Heat to a 7-game series. That wasn’t a bad year. We were playing as a team and the team relied on each other to get the job done.
Want to jump back 2 seasons? 2 seasons ago, Kemba Walker had decided to go ahead and have the meniscus in his knee repaired. That surgery, right at mid-season, basically took us out of playoffs talks for the 2014-2015 season. We were also dealing with missing Biyombo and Marv, both who had left the same game with concussions. Al Jefferson came into the season that year overweight, and he was not much help at all. We staggered through that season and we did not make the playoffs.
So, my Hornets brethren, all is not lost in the 2016-2017 season. Honestly, it’s just now heating up. Last year, February brought us Courtney Lee to fill the gaping hole left by the injured MKG. Do I think a trade may happen again? In Rich Cho I trust. He always finds that “thing” that the team needs, and he makes a trade that begins with fans scratching their heads in the beginning, and by March, he’s the NBA Trade GM Wizard.
Let me just remind everyone that we aren’t the 7-win Bobcats. I think part of the panic right now is because of the strong start, and now the losses. It’s going to be OK. In the words of Third Eye Blind, “I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend”. It really is going to be OK. Everyone seems to be in decent health and will be recovering from the ailments that they have and return to good rhythm in the next week or so. I’m still looking for a better season than last year. I still bee-lieve in a 1st round victory, and then who knows what may happen in the second round. Everyone just has to keep the faith and understand that the NBA season is a marathon and not a sprint.
The late George Michael said it best:
“‘Cause I gotta have faith
I gotta have faith
‘Cause I gotta have faith, faith
‘Cause I gotta have faith, faith, faith”
You know you just sang that and smiled.
Let’s Go Hornets!
Kemba Walker #NBA Vote