Hello again Hornets fans! I can’t begin to tell everyone how much I’ve missed them and how much I’ve missed Hornets Basketball. Things have been pretty quiet here at Trade Street Post. The belief was that after lunch with Rich Cho last season, prior to the playoffs, I would be able to really get a good “inside scoop” on the team. I believed that I would have even more access than ever before so that I could truly be a liaison between the organization and the fans. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened so far. There was not time or space for me to attend Media Day. This would be the first time in 5 years that I was not able to attend. I took it with a grain of salt. Speaking of grains of salt, I was also not invited to the “New Concessions Tasting” that I have been invited to for the last 2 or 3 years. This sure feels like the opposite of getting even more access. I was invited to the open practice back on October 15th, but my oldest son had a baseball tournament, so I could not attend. At any rate, it’s good to be back writing about the team I love. I’m going to not let what appears to be the organization trying to push me away, hinder my love for the team. If I can’t get access like I used to, then I’ll just share my perspective as I always have, without candy coating it, but being fair and firm about it. If they decide to let me in, you guys will know it because I’ll be writing exclusives like never before. Without further ado, let’s get into last night’s game.
The “Men of Teal” opened the 2016-2017 season by travelling to Milwaukee, WI to play the Bucks. As always, I had my own season opener jitters. I’ve not had the chance to sit and really watch the guys play, but Fox Sports Southeast provided the game for me to watch, and I will continue to watch all season long.
As fans, do you guys start to develop pre-conceived notions about the team and the players? In trying to be objective about the team and not basing opinions on what others say and think, it’s never easy to stand strong and not let others change your opinion. I think I do a pretty good job of sticking to my beliefs. With that said, I look towards all of the folks that called Roy Hibbert out for not being any good anymore. They talked about what a waste it was for the Hornets pick him up. One thing this franchise knows is when a player is in a bad situation on a team. Last season it was Jeremy Lin. He was torn apart in LA for his game play, primarily because of the stubborn head coach that didn’t let Lin play “his way”. This season, we picked up Roy Hibbert after a weak stint in LA. You don’t go from all-star status to a “waste” in a matter of a season. Why am I focusing on Roy? Well his 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 blocks leads me to believe that he could be the “All-star Roy” that everyone saw in Indiana. If that’s the case, the NBA better look out. I have reason to believe that they should be looking out anyway. I see big things in store for the Hornets. We may have more than 1 all-star selection on the team this year!
In addition to Roy’s stats, we had the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Gaining him back was like signing a free agent, and a pretty good one at that. Last night he was an even stronger and consistent MKG than we have ever seen before. He finished the night with a team-high 23 points, 14 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block. He was also 3-3 from the foul line. Now, that shot is smoother than it used to be, and it isn’t pretty, but if it goes in, I don’t care what it looks like. I was very pleased with how he played and I expect more of the same on a consistent basis as the season rolls on. Kemba Walker did point guard things last night. In the rants about players and what they do at their position, there has always been a fuss that Kemba doesn’t pass the ball and rack up assists. Kemba finished the night with 17 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. I’ll take that every night from my point guard. Marvin Williams gave us his first double-double of the season. He had 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and a monster block in the game. Nic Batum rounds out the last of the starters. He had a quiet night scoring only 9 points, but his presence was felt in his 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.
It’s just hard to complain about a team that gets 77 points from its starters and 4 of the 5 were in solid, double figures. That turns the attention to the next complaint from the fans. That complaint was that our bench would just not be any good this season. Well, in initially watching the game, I could tend to agree a little bit. The second unit is not as smooth as the first. I do expect, however, for them to get better as the season moves on. The smoothness of the first unit is due to the chemistry of the returning players from last year. The smoothness would diminish as the bench players would come in. This is something that will fix itself with time together during the season.
Cody Zeller had a great game off the bench with a solid 15 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, and 2 blocks. Marco Belinelli looks rusty, but he’s a very capable player who looks comfortable with the team. His 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist was a solid first outing for him as a Hornets, and those numbers will continue to improve as the season improves. Spencer Hawes provided 4 points, 3 assists, and 1 block on the night. Rounding out the bench players are Ramon Sessions (4 points) and Jason Lamb (1 rebound and 2 assists). Ramon will slowly adjust to these guys as the season plays out, but I am still having concerns about Jason Lamb. I really want Lamb to do well, and I believe he has the skill to do so, but he just looked a step slower than the rest of the team. He was 0-4 in shooting and one of his shots from the elbow almost missed everything. I’m praying that he pulls it together, but if he doesn’t, he may find a good bit of playing time.
Frank Kaminsky and Brian Roberts were inactive last night. Frank is nursing some sort of foot injury. I do not know the extent, but I’m hoping it’s something minor.
So there you have it Hornets fans. We are undefeated in this season. We’re going 82-0! Championship time in CLT!
Hold your horses Hornets fans. From my little league baseball coaching days, I have to say this: Let’s take the season 1 game at a time. I’m certain we don’t go undefeated. I do believe we flirt with 50 wins this season. Last year I said we would win 42-46 games and we won 48. Watching last night’s game it’s a little soon to say. If you want me to say it, I would go with 46-48 games we will win this year. My opinion may change as we get more games under our belts, but for now, that’s what I’m going throw out there. After about 10-15 games, I’ll be able to tell you if I’m seeing what I’m looking for in the team that makes me either stick to my win prediction or if I need to adjust it. In the meantime, let’s get ready for Boston on Saturday. We need that Opening Night win for the Queen City! Also, I want all the Celtic fans that bought tickets to the game to have to go home with their tails between their legs.
***I got ahead of myself. Let’s beat the Heat tonight, then worry about those Beantown Bullies.
Let’s Go Hornets!