Here’s a quick recap of the Hornets offseason:
June 15: Lance Stephenson is dealt to the Clippers for Spencer Hawes.
The Charlotte Hornets off-season started off with promise, with plague Stephenson dealt to LA in return for an experienced white big man Hawes. A solid trade for both parties.
June 24: The Hornets send 2014 9th pick Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson to Portland in exchange for Nicolas Batum. Well this was confusing.
The Hornets traded away Vonleh – last years lottery pick and a potential star of the future and Henderson – a slightly worse Batum for Batum, who is a free agent next summer and may have just stopped by in Charlotte to increase his value before heading to greener pastures. The Hornets front knew all this and still made the trade, go figure.
June 25 (Draft night): The Celtics offer Charlotte four first-round picks for the chance to move up from no. 16 to no. 9: that 16th pick, no. 15 (acquired in a prearranged contingency deal with the Hawks), one unprotected future Brooklyn pick, and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves, per sources familiar with the talks. The Hornets decline this deal and select Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin.
They could’ve had Winslow, they could’ve had pick 16, 15, a potential top 10 future pick from the Nets and another pick. But they took Kaminsky, another white big man. By god they better hope that Kaminsky turns into Kevin Love.
July 22: Hornets sign Tyler Hansbrough – another white big man.
October 4: Small Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dislocates shoulder in first exhibition game and will miss the entire NBA season.
Last season the Hornets were awful without MKG – when he was off the court their defense went from conceding 97.1 points per game to 104.1.
In the model I have used the figure without MKG for the Hornets defense and it seems that they may be a candidate for a top five pick. With the power of hindsight, how handy would an energetic, defense-first wing player be in this circumstance? If only there was one on the board when the Hornets took Kaminsky to add to the plethora of white big men (Hawes, Hansbrough and Zeller was plenty) and stretch 4s (Hawes, Williams).
Look for Steve Clifford to lose his job early in the season if he can’t find a way to get this team scoring and can’t build an airtight defense on the fly to replace the one they had built around MKG. Personally I believe this would be a horrendous mistake, Clifford is a really good coach who has produced top 10 defensive teams in the past two seasons, but without MKG, the signs don’t look promising. Last season, they were 6-21 without MKG and 27-28 with him – a record that would’ve been good enough for 7th in the East. For Charlotte’s sake, let’s hope that Batum can be a better defender than the analytics suggest and fit seamlessly into the MKG role whilst also producing on offense. Let’s hope.
Projected Record: 25-57
My Predicted Wins: 25-30
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