I bring to you — interested parties of Charlotte Hornets fandom — a written response this week, addressing the idea of losing.
That is, that the Charlotte Hornets should do it. Tank. Mail it in. Give up. Trust the process. Play the odds. Lose.
There is nothing left for the Hornets this season but to make sure the scouting team is in place for March Madness, pencils sharpened. The team currently sits three and a half games out from the eighth seed in the East, with a measly eighteen games remaining on the schedule.
The Hornets issues are not from coaching. Clifford has repeatedly shown he is among one of the best defensive-minded head coaches in the league. Their issues do not appear to be chemistry-related. The players seem to like each other, and the team is filled with high-character individuals like Kemba and Marvin and MKG. Nor does their issue appear to stem from free agency or the trade deadline. GM Rich Cho has been traditionally strong in making sober, rational deals to help round out the roster.
No, the Hornets blind spot is the draft.
Of perhaps every first round pick since back when the franchise returned to Charlotte, only one seems to have justified itself: Kemba Walker.
Every other selection is —- or at least appears to be — not great. Even a nice player like Cody Zeller who’s made strides this season, is the product of a top five draft selection. He appears to be a very fine role player.
Last week I claimed the Hornets draft issues can primarily be traced from simple bad luck, and I believe the evidence continues to bear itself out. However, this is still the one side of the process that the front office appears to despise. Whether it’s Jordan’s win-now attitude, or Clifford’s Van Gundy-esque preference towards veterans, the draft has never felt like a particularly inspired branch of the Charlotte decision-making tree.
But this year should be different. This year the team we all thought was more than good enough — isn’t. Predictions of home court playoff contention look ridiculous when the team directly behind you in the standings is the New York f*#$in’ Knicks.
The draft this year looks to be incredibly strong, with essentially all of the first round projected to be college Freshman, Sophomores, and international players. In other words, it’s the perfect time for Charlotte to make a splash. The perfect time to hang up the sneakers on this season and concentrate on drafting an actual potential franchise difference maker, not just some presumed specific missing piece for what ends up maxing out as an eighth seed of a team.
It’s a bummer the season didn’t turn out as most Charlotte fans would have preferred, but there’s still light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is more than likely eighteen years old with a massive wingspan.
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