Welcome to our first (weekly) At The Hive round table!
Here's the deal: Each week, I'll ask our writers and staff a question. They'll make their case, and we'll open up the question to you in the comments, as well as with a poll. Simple, right?
So here's this week's question:
What's most surprised you about the Charlotte Hornets' season so far?
Austin Peters: Definitely the defense. After watching the preseason and taking a deep dive into their offense, you could tell that they were due to make a big jump on that end of the floor. As far as the defense goes, I didn't expect them to be this bad. They're currently 22nd in defensive efficiency, a mark that would easily be the worst of the coach Clifford era. I trust Coach to get things turned around, but there are still several things that worry me on that end, all personnel-related and not scheme-related. Who would've thought after last season that it was going to be the defense instead of the offense that we would have to worry about for this team?
David Walker: At this moment, the play of Jeremy Lamb has been the biggest surprise. If this is the level of play the Hornets are going to get out of him for the next three years they got a tremendous bargain. Signing him was/is a gamble. And the Hornets desperately need to hit on a gamble. At his salary, being a solid backup off the bench will be fine so getting a starter at that money and out of this guy should be the furthest thing from anyone's mind right now, especially given what he has (or rather, hasn't) show in this league thus far. But he has been, by far, the most impactful shooting guard for Charlotte this year (although Jeremy Lin has also been excellent) and can flat out score. It will be interesting to see if he can perform at the same level if and when he starts running with the starters. But for now, he has been fantastic.
Nick Denning: Jeremy Lamb. Not only is he scoring more than I expected, he's done it with high efficiency. While he seems best suited with the second unit, I wonder if Clifford will be forced to move Lamb into the starting lineup if he continues to play this well.
Corey McPherron: The new offense has been the big surprise. I didn't expect the Hornets to throw up so many threes so quickly. As somebody who has watched stagnant offense for the past couple seasons, it's nice to see an offense closer to what a modern NBA looks like. In all honesty, I didn't expect the transition so quickly. I think it speaks to head coach Steve Clifford's ability to adapt.
Russell Varner: My answer is Lamb, for all the above reasons and the fact that as of Monday, he was fifth in the NBA (!!!!) in PER. But attention needs to be given to Marvin Williams and this team's bench. Williams looks like a much improved player this season, particularly his rebounding, which was needed with the loss of MKG. Tuesday night was the fifth time this season that Williams grabbed 10 or more boards. He grabbed 10 or more rebounds just five times last season.
As for the bench, they came into Tuesday's matchup with the Timberwolves averaging 40.0 points per game, good for third in the NBA. Then, the bench, led by the two Jeremys (we'll need to come up with a nickname for the two of them at this rate), dropped 57 on Minnesota. I could even argue that the bench outplayed the starters in their victory, which would have been unthinkable just a year ago. This year's bench is the most talented one Charlotte has had in quite some time.
Joshua Priemski: The 3-pointers. We knew during the offseason that the Hornets would be taking more, and it's not very hard to make more when you shot 31.8 percent from behind the arc last season. But man, I don't think anyone expected them to be taking 26.6 per game while converting on 35.5 percent of them. With MKG out, it's cool to see the Hornets double down on offense while their defense takes a step back. Is it sustainable, though? We'll see.