Welcome to 2015. The Charlote Hornets are 10-23, and are without Al Jefferson for the next month. If there is a buzz about the Hornets, its certainly not coming from the team.
Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot being said about the Hornets either. Al Jefferson's injury has been a bit of a talking point, but it would have drawn a lot more press if the Hornets were, yanno, in the playoff picture. However, Spencer Percy over at Queen City Hoops wrote on how the Hornets could proceed while Jefferson is sidelined. Percy looks at how Bismack Biyombo's increased role could impact the Hornets on both ends of the floor:
Charlotte will now have a legitimate rim-protecter (1.3 BlkPG in just 14 MPG) hanging out in the paint to clean up the mess which will allow the wings to deny passing lanes and stay more connected to their guys. This style of play on the defensive end should lead to the Hornets playing quicker offensively – when defenses are extended and counting on their bigs to clean up parties at the rim, they’re in position for fast-break opportunities.
This was true to an extent, Charlotte did move the ball more quickly in the first half, but it was more due to the absence of Jefferson rather than the addition of Biyombo. As good a rim protector as he is, he also got himself in foul trouble early. Guarding Dwight Howard is tough, but Biyombo cannot afford to make a habit of committing fouls as the starter. Still, at least Hornets fans get to see Biyombo as the starter in the final year of his rookie deal. Remember the good old days, when Charlotte drafted him 7th overall to be their center of the future? Those were the days.
Moving on, Rick Bonnell over at the Charlotte Observer wrote about how Kemba Walker has learned to minimize turnovers over the past year and a half. Walker credits assistant coach Mark Price with helping him adjust his pace, and as Bonnell writes, the results are clear:
Since Price joined the Hornets as part of Steve Clifford’s staff in the summer of 2013, he has advised Walker about pace – how varying the way he plays would set up defenders.
This seemed to click for Walker roughly after he missed seven games with an ankle sprain in January of last season. Walker has talked about how sitting out those games was constructive, as far as him analyzing what he and teammates were doing.
The numbers make the point: Over the first 42 games of last season, Walker totaled 212 assists and 103 turnovers – a 2.06-to-1 ratio. Over his last 31 games last season, Walker totaled 235 assists and 66 turnovers – a 3.56-to-1 ratio.
Those numbers have carried over to this season. As Bonnell reports, Walker ranks third in the league in assists-to-turnovers ratio at 3.7-to-1. It's great to see how far Walker has developed in 3 and a half seasons. There are still limits to his game, and places he needs to improve, but he has developed into the dynamic point guard the team was hoping he'd become.
Finally, Kyle Robbins of SB Nation's The Crimson Quarry, which covers Indiana University sports, wrote a humorous piece on Noah Vonleh's assignment to the D-League. As you'll see, a few IU sports fans saw Vonleh's assignment to the D-League as proof that Vonleh should've stayed at Indiana for one more season. Robbins however, doesn't quite agree:
Q1: Hey, don't you think Noah Vonleh should have stayed another year at Indiana?
AI: No, he should not have. He is making around 2.5 million dollars this year. That is a lot of money. Indiana is not allowed to pay players money, per NCAA rules.
Q2: But he's in the D-LEAGUE now! He's in the minor-leagues! They don't make that!
A2: D-League players that have been assigned by a NBA team are paid their full NBA Salary. His salary is around 2.5 million dollars this year, which is a lot of money.
2.5 million dollars is a lot of money to make in a season. Is it fat-cat corporate blogger type money? Not quite, in fact, it's much, much, more.