Hello Hornets fans! I think it’s time to start writing about my favorite pro team in the whole world, and my only true pro sports passion: the Charlotte Hornets. If you’re new to the site, welcome aboard. If you’re used to my writings and opinions and still decided to return, welcome back!
One thing that I always try to do is remain politically neutral. I don’t like to take a side on the political front because when you do that, one side will be mad and the other side will love what you say. I’m just here to talk about my Hornets, so I am not going to be pushing a presidential candidate, placing blame on someone for the All Star game being removed from Charlotte, or anything like that. I’m sticking to the team, the players, and listening for feedback from the fans. With that said, let’s jump into the 2016-2017 Charlotte Hornets roster of players as it stands as of right this moment.
I will begin with the point guard situation because I view it as one of the most complete positions in the depth chart that we have. Now of course last year we got to see glimpses of a “Linsanity 2.0” with Jeremy Lin in the Queen City. Lin had some really good games in his tenure with the Hornets, and we all knew that his small contract, with the 2nd year being a player option, that he would not be staying for that money. Honestly, what player with a “player option” would have stuck out a small contract when they knew they could get more money on a new deal? The problem with Lin was that he was worth more than the Hornets wanted to pay for someone of his caliber to just be coming off the bench. Also, Lin wanted to be a starter. So with the combination of the desire to be a starter, and the amount of money that could be made, we had to say farewell to Jeremy Lin and I wish him nothing but the best of luck in Brooklyn. I will definitely miss him, and I certainly contribute a good portion of the “closeness” and “chemistry” we saw with the team last year to Lin. I believe he was a major cog in drawing everyone together. I have to move on now to the depth that we actually have at the point guard spot. Last year we saw Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin as the 1-2 punch at the point guard spot. Everyone else was forgotten at that position. This year, we have Kemba Walker, who will be starting at PG, Ramon Sessions will be returning to Charlotte. Ramon is familiar with Coach Clifford, Charlotte, and the team, so bringing him back into the mix is a very smooth transition. The 3rd point guard is the return of Brian Roberts, another player that is familiar with the system and Coach Clifford. The experience level at that PG spot will allow for many options this season. There will be an upcoming article soon comparing the 3 players rostered at this spot to try and shed light on just what they will bring to the table.
The shooting guard position has always been a spot where the Hornets were lacking. Depth was never something that we had other than having warm bodies to fill the spot, but not exactly talent level to score lots of points. Last year, our addition of Nic Batum to the roster allowed for Kemba to not have to make all of the plays for the team. Nic could make some incredible passes to get the whole team involved, and that’s just what he did. Nic is a small forward, but has the skills to play the shooting guard position. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the team, the shooting guard position was truly a spot that needed to be stronger. This year, in order for even better rotations of players in and out, Batum has someone that is very capable of backing him up and scoring points. Marco Belinelli was added to the team via trade. We were able to jettison our 22nd pick in this year’s draft (a weaker draft than many want to admit) to pick up a seasoned veteran that was stuck on a struggling team. With the salary cap jump, snagging a player of Marco’s experience level for the next 2 years for under $7 million per season, he was quite the steal for us. Many want to argue that point, but his performance at FIBA this summer (15.7pts, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists) should let everyone know that he’s a solid pickup. Rounding out the depth at shooting guard is Jeremy Lamb. When Lamb is on, he is ON. When he’s off, he’s invisible. A player of his length, under a solid training camp with Coach Clifford and staff, should be returning to the team this season better than ever. It may be a make-or-break year for him, but again, he will be here on a very manageable $7 million per season contract. With this new cap situation, he’s another player that the Hornets have to fill out their roster that came at a low price, all things considered. There is a 4th shooting guard on the team in Aaron Harrison. He did not have the best of showings at Summer League, and he could have possibly played himself out of a position. I suppose time will tell with him, and he could even wind up with the Greensboro Swarm (the Charlotte Hornets D-League team). We’ll just have to wait for training camp to see how that’s going to play out.
Small forward is the one position that I am completely terrified with at this moment. While it is true that Nic Batum could play minutes at the SF position, we want him starting at shooting guard. I fully believe that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be returning this season from his 2 shoulder injuries from last season with a vengeance. He will blow many minds this year in terms of his defense, which is his trademark, as well as his new-found ability to score the ball, as we saw in the 7 games he was able to play last season. Maybe I’m just worrying too much about it. Maybe having only MKG and Nic as the able bodies that could play small forward is all we need. Marvin Williams is a stretch-4, so perhaps we will rely on Marv as a part time small forward. This would allow for a little more depth within the team without moves needing to be made with the roster. I can see the need to do as I previously mentioned and move Aaron Harrison off the books and sign him with the Swarm, and look for a young prospect from the D-League for the small forward position. In Cho I trust though, and I know that if there’s a deal that he sees that he thinks will be the better fit, he will make that move.
Since I mentioned Marvin Williams and I called him a stretch-4, the question has to be asked: Will Marvin Williams be our starting Power Forward this season or will Frank Kaminsky…or Cody Zeller… That’s a tough call, right? Once you get to the frontcourt, specifically the power forward and center position, questions have to start being asked. I have to lump power forward and center together because there’s a good bit of guys on the team right now that could possibly fill either spot. Marvin Williams saw plenty of time starting at the power forward position last season with Cody Zeller by his side at the center spot. It wasn’t the case the whole time as Al Jefferson had his fair share of starts before a torn meniscus sidelined him for many, many weeks. After Al went down, Cody stepped into the center position and truly began to flourish. With his excellent footwork, agility, and size, the 7-footer could fill either spot. The reason I have to question these 2 spots is due to Roy Hibbert. At 7’2”, he may be the better option at C. My issue I’ve had with every “Hibbert Hater” is that perhaps he just was not comfortable in LakerLand. Perhaps the system, the coaching staff, something, just didn’t fit Roy. He’s the same guy he was back when he made the all-star team with the Pacers. With a little solid coaching from Coach Clifford, Ewing, and the rest of the staff, who is to say he couldn’t return to form? I mean Jeremy Lin did. He started enjoying the game again and had a good time doing it. I think the Hornets know what Hibbert could return to, and they would love for him to return to that level in Charlotte. So what’s the biggest question? We have Roy, Cody, Frank, & Spencer, who could all fill the center or power forward spot. I believe Frank’s playing time will be determined by how much weight and strength he adds this summer. I believe that if we see a Frank the Tank returning to the team, weighing in the 240s to 250s, we’re going to have a bunch of talent at the 4 and 5 position. Enough, in fact, that we can rotate players in and out and fatigue will not ever be an issue on the boards. We even picked up 6’11” Mike Tobey yesterday. I believe that this might be a move in order to have enough players for training camp, as we see the Hornets do every year. Perhaps he becomes another player that we can cut-and-stash on the Greensboro Swarm. We’ll just have to wait and see.
So if you’re going to ask me today who our starting 5 for the upcoming season is…
It’s too soon to say. I believe that there will be some fierce competition in the frontcourt, with the exception of MKG.
If you want me to totally speculate, based on last season:
In this “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario, these 5 would be the most logical starters.
If you want me to go with “full potential reclaimed” starting 5:
Frank (or Cody)
In this scenario, I envision Hibbert becoming the all-star that he was, and Frank pushing 240-250lbs, but having his shooting touch from 3-point land, as well as some post moves and a killer mid-range game. The same exact statement holds for the Cody scenario. He also finds a shooting touch from 3-point range and his athleticism and hustle on both ends of the floor throw him into the starting lineup.
We spent a good bit of money to keep Marvin Williams here. It would be hard for me to see him not starting.
I’m not going into who our second unit could be, primarily because we all know that just from what I wrote above, anything can happen. We also know that we NEVER take the entire 1st unit out and put the second unit in. Players rotate in and out. You’ll see Sessions rotate in. You’ll see Marco rotate in. As for the rest of the positions, who knows?
Bottom line is that I see this team with a lot of depth in every spot except for small forward, but if you really look at it, depending on who you start, we can create some depth there as well with MKG and Marv being the 1-2 punch at SF.
Be ready for some fierce competition this Training Camp. I will be praying for everyone to remain healthy and for the chemistry to be as good, if not better, than last season’s team was. I am very positive about the 2016-2017 season. I expect as many wins this year, if not more than last year. I’m thinking 52 wins.
You guys can tell when I haven’t written in a while, huh? I get a little wordy. Hope you enjoy the read, and I will start delving into each position really soon.
Let’s Go Hornets!