With All-Star Weekend upon us, it’s now time to take a look on where the Charlotte Hornets are, in relation to both themselves and against the entire NBA. As of this recording, the team is 28-29 which situates them seventh in the eastern conference.
The Hornets had quite a busy 2018 offseason. They saw the firings of both head coach and general manager. Although it’s been only eight months since these hirings, have you seen any kind of dramatic change within the Hornets organization?
Andrew: I do see a different “culture” embarking on the team since Mitch Kupchak and James Borrego took the helm. Although the team’s roster has been only slightly alternated between their hirings and now, there is an apparent change in the whole atmosphere surrounding Charlotte. A more-involved blend to match the modern NBA is my number one difference I see. Borrego has done a nice job sliding in players at certain positions that a more traditional style coach like former Hornets coach Steve Clifford would have never implemented. Despite the same mediocrity play coming from the team as was the case last year, there is a subtle difference in philosophy that I can see becoming an important factor down the road.
Jonathan: There’s definitely been a dramatic shift in the on-court style of the Hornets. Several players have shifted up a position, like Nic from 2 to 3, MKG from 3 to 4. The team is playing with more pace and is playing a more perimeter-oriented style of basketball. It hasn’t translated into a dramatic improvement over last year, but it feels like a more sustainable path moving forward. As for the front office side, it’s too early to say. The only difference I’ve seen so far is that we actually use our second rounders and we get connected to more rumors.
Laieke: The team is playing with a lot of pace and they’re shooting a lot more from the outside. It’s catered to the modern NBA, but the team hasn’t significantly improved their record playing this way. I think it’ll take some time for Borrego to implement his system especially if roster changes take place this summer.
Outside of Hornets guard Kemba Walker, who is now competing in his third-straight all-star game, what player on the team are you most impressed with this season?
Andrew: Jeremy Lamb has proven to be a legitimate contributor to this Hornets team. He has finally found his footing in the Queen City and, hopefully, should be a long-term option for them. He provides spacing from all three levels of the halfcourt and gives a much-needed scoring boost when Walker is off the floor or having a rough shooting night.
Jonathan: I’m going to go with Marvin Williams. He catches heat for low scoring outputs, but I think he’s the second most important player on the team right now. He’s the only player on the team that has positive offensive and defensive Real Plus-Minus numbers. He’s able to play both the four and five well on both ends of the court, which is even more important considering the ineptitude of our other centers on one end of the court or the other (except for Cody Zeller).
Laieke: Jeremy Lamb is playing well enough to get an eight figure salary going forward. In a contract year, he’s having a career season. Lamb is the definition of player development in the NBA. However, it’s going to be hard to retain with the Hornets current cap situation.
Let’s flip it around and ask who is the player on the Hornets that has been the least-impressive so far.
Andrew: It has to be Frank Kaminsky for me. Coming into his third season, I was expecting him to keep this confidence up coming off his best career game during last year’s final game. Even with the Cody Zeller injury, he was not able to shape his game defensively and has essentially become a shell of himself. It’s disheartening to see a former top-10 pick in the draft plummet this hard.
Jonathan: There are plenty of candidates for this one. I’m going to go with Willy Hernangomez. Some people thought he might usurp Zeller for the starting center spot, but he’s barely able to crack the rotation as a backup. He puts up good scoring and rebounding numbers, but is defense is terrible and he hasn’t been a reliable target as a pass recipient, and it bogs down the offense.
Laieke: It’s Frank Kaminsky, but not because of his play. This one is on the front office for drafting him. I think the entire NBA world knew this was a mistake and the Hornets have really paid for it in recent years. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer unless Charlotte renounces his free agent status.
The Hornets have two players competing on Saturday night. Miles Bridges will be participating in the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest while Kemba will be in the Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest. How well do you think each player will perform?
Andrew: For Kemba, the style of this contest doesn’t match with his offensive style. He is a primary off-dribble shooter and he doesn’t pull up from the catch-and-shoot as other players in the association do. That said, I can see him barring fourth place behind Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, and Devin Booker.
For Bridges, I believe he has a legitimate chance of winning the dunk contest. His competition isn’t as strong as years prior, with New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. being his only true competition. I can picture Bridges holding up the trophy in front of his hometown fans.
Jonathan: Kemba came in third in the 3-point contest a couple years ago, so I think he has a legitimate shot. Same for Bridges, though I think he might have a hard time outdoing what the guards do. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of stuff he comes up with.
Laieke: I like both of their chances, but I think Miles Bridges has a better shot to win his event. Kemba is capable, but he’s going against a lot of great shooters. Hopefully, they both put on a show during all star weekend.
For our final question, let’s look at our site. What feature would you like to see improve or perhaps be introduced to At The Hive that’ll make it stand out from the other media outlets?
Andrew: One aspect of the site that I can see improvement as the year goes along is the fan participation articles. Used during special themed pieces in the past, I think having the fans of At The Hive having a big voice goes a long way in establishing this community. With all of the interesting aspects of the NBA offseason, like the draft, we could definitely have more fan voice on what the Hornets should and shouldn’t do.
Jonathan: Adding to Andrew’s answer, we have some new stuff in the works. Stay tuned.
Laieke: I echo the same sentiments as Jonathan and Andrew. Hopefully, this site can continue to grow and we need support from the fans.