The Hornets' offense is going to change. Not by choice, but fate has forced them to adjust. Josh McRoberts, the pass-happy big man that passed more than anybody not named Kemba Walker last year, has taken his talents to south beach. Leaving Charlotte with a massive hole in last year's system. Sad to say, but no big men on the team have the passing ability of McRoberts.
But Hornets fans shall fear not. For there is another. He is not a big man, nor does he have hair that makes him look like he should be in a Foo Fighter's cover band, but he's pretty damn good at creating with the ball in hands. I'm speaking of course about Lance Stephenson.
With the addition of Stephenson, the offense will naturally change somewhat. Most of the team's scoring will still go through Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. The Hornets are very fond of running sets with Walker off ball. This is where Lance Stephenson comes in. Stephenson is an excellent ball handler himself, and a solid creator. Despite being in a sluggish and struggling Indiana offense, Stephenson still managed to average four assists per game last season with an assist percentage of 22 percent, which is pretty impressive for such a ball dominant guy. He earned a reputation as a triple double threat, and in a more free flowing offense like Charlotte's, his pass numbers should get a boost. Steve Clifford will most likely adjust those McRoberts sets last year to fit towards Stephenson.
Last year the team's offense was best when it had two ball handlers on the floor. It allowed them to mix things up, and have a consistent flow in their offense. Sometimes, the team was moving the ball just for the sake of not letting it stick. It keeps the defense off balance and is very helpful to the offense. The way they did this was putting Josh McRoberts up on the elbow, or at the top of the key, and letting him work from there. Now with Stephenson, we should expect a more LeBron James style creator. Someone that brings the ball up the floor and allows the team to get into their sets earlier. This will let the Hornets have more time to run better, more complex, plays.
Therefore the passing most likely will be at the same level as last year, which is a good thing, because the offense is going to change a little more than just ball handlers. To go with Stephenson, the Hornets went out and signed Brian Roberts and Marvin Williams in hopes of improving their their three point shooting. Additionally, they drafted P.J. Hairston and will hope Jeff Taylor will regain his stroke from his rookie season. The Hornets biggest weakness last year was their lack of shooting, and that was the need they were most focused on fixing.
The Hornets aren't going to become the Houston Rockets where they do nothing but shoot threes and attack the rim, but they are definitely going to try to let it fly from three a little more freely this season. Even if they're able to spread the floor just a little more, they may improve their spacing enough to enhance the other things they like to do offensively.
Charlotte's offense is going to change this season, but nothing too drastic. Ball movement, screens, and getting Al Jefferson the ball with space to let him work will all still be there. But we'll see some variety in who brings the ball up and more three point shooting in general. With the increase in talent, and a year under the belts of the main pieces, the offense should also function a little smoother than last season. Of course, Steve Clifford is a smart guy, he might pull out some plays to surprise us all. The only way we'll know for sure is when the season tips off.