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Injuries are what's wrong with the Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets have struggled to get wins lately after a blazing hot start to the season. What's going wrong?

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The Charlotte Hornets have lost five straights games and won just two of their last 10. Their offense and defense have both slipped to 23rd in the league after starting the season in the top-10.

Everything's a mess, and there's no clear reason why. We asked our team of writers what they think is causing the Hornets to lose. Here's what they said:

Johnny Wakefield

The loss of Big Al really hurts: spacing, scoring, everything…so I’d say that’s the biggest reason. I think the injuries in general are the main problem with the team right now: the depth and punch that we had off the bench earlier in the season just isn’t there.

The new additions gave us some spark, but now, Jeremy Lamb isn’t on fire anymore, Lin’s being asked to fill in multiple roles when he’s healthy, Hawes has been out. It was our strength in November, but the depth was absent in December. I don’t know how they respond to that, either. Try to hang in there until Big Al and everybody gets back to full strength? I think we went from fighting for a top four seed to fighting for that 8th spot, but we’re not out of it yet.

Jack Bedrosian

Current Hornets who are — or have been — injured at some point during the past ten games: Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, and Spencer Hawes.

The Hornets have obviously been much-improved to start the season, but they still don't have the kind of talent or depth to overcome that many injuries to key guys, especially while seven of their last 10 have come against opponents with winning records.

Also, this recent stretch of poor shooting is EXACTLY what defensive coaches like Cliff get all red in the face about in regards to defensive effort and reliability. Skill (offense) in terms of the night-to-night is unreliable, while effort (defense) is not. And with the Hornets starting the season shooting so uncharacteristically well, it seems reasonable to believe that this recent regression has caught everyone flat-footed — literally — stuck playing the kind of defense that you tend to when hitting 45 percent from three every night.

Joshua Priemski


Yes, injuries to starters hurt the starting unit's effectiveness, but where the Hornets' recent string of injuries has really hurt them is in obliterating their depth. The Hornets' bench was its identity early in the season, and many of the team's highest net ratings come from its bench. Now, Lin's being asked to play against starters (in many cases, hurt), which forces Brian Roberts into the rotation. I like Roberts a lot, but if the Hornets were healthy, he'd be seeing DNP-CD an awful lot.

Batum and Jefferson are the Hornets' only two non-Kemba, non-Lin creators, and when Kemba and Lin are sharing the floor together to mitigate those losses, there are bound to be ripple effects. The Hornets have essentially zero depth. Troy Daniels played well last night, but much like Roberts, if the team's healthy, he's not playing. Chemistry is huge in sports and even though the Hornets are all teammates, they don't have much chemistry playing together. In scrimmages, there are first teams, second teams, and third teams. Right now, everything is jumbled.

Luckily, Batum's injury doesn't sound serious, Jefferson's due back in a few weeks, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is well ahead of schedule with his recovery. If the Hornets can avoid more injuries, everything should rectify itself very, very soon.

Chris Barnewall

It might seem lazy to blame everything on injuries so let's not!

Injuries are obviously the reason Charlotte has fallen as far as they have, but it's pretty clear that this team had some serious regression to the mean on the way. We all knew that as well as they played throughout November there was gonna be a little bit of a drop off. They were making shots that non-Warriors teams just don't make. On top of that, they started off the season in the middle of the league on defense, and then had a jump midway through November and early December that put them near the top 5. That was definitely gonna fall off as well. I expect when they get healthy the team will balance out a little more and we'll finally know who the real Hornets are.

Russell Varner

Injuries have definitely played a big role, but the biggest, or at least most worrying, part of the Hornets’ recent slide has been the team’s defense. Or should I say lack thereof.

Charlotte has been known as a defensive powerhouse ever since Steve Clifford took over as head coach, but the team seems to have lost its identity on that side of the floor lately. Perhaps it is because Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out. Perhaps it is the lack of a true post defender or rim protector.

Whatever it is, the Hornets have gone from a top 10 defense to currently ranking 16th in the Association in opponent points per game (100.7). But Charlotte is currently freefalling down that list. Since Christmas, they have been giving up 106.7 points per game.

The Hornets need to go back to their roots and play some defense again. A return of MKG would be a great start, but by the time he gets back in the lineup, it may be too late if the team doesn't begin to turn it around on their own.