2018 Charlotte Hornets Season Preview

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

 2016/17 Record:  36-46

Missed Playoffs

 

Trades

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C Dwight Howard G Marco Belinelli
C Miles Plumlee

Image result for dwight howard hornetsDwight Howard is no longer the elite athlete that can dominate a game with elite speed, length, and size.  Despite his regression, Superman remains a solid defensive center can help a Hornets team with mediocre rim protection.  Howard is good for a nightly double-double and will alter shots at the rim while controlling the boards.  Statistically, Howard was close to elite defensively.

1 Rudy Gobert 0.058
2 Anthony Davis 0.054
3 Joel Embiid 0.048
4 Andrew Bogut 0.043
5 DeAndre Jordan 0.043
6 Dwight Howard 0.042

Defensive Win Share rankings for Centers 2016/2017

Charlotte was an average defensive team last year, rating 14th in DefRtg overall.  Moving Belinelli and Plumlee – both poor defenders – will give the team a chance to improve on defense.

Rookie Malik Monk is not known as a strong defender coming out of Kentucky but has the tools to grow on that end.  A rotation of Howard and Zeller should be a formidable defensive frontcourt.  The Hornets are in win-now mode with some room to grow – not a bad fit for Howard.

Draft

G Malik Monk Kentucky #11 pick overall
SF Dwayne Bacon  Florida State #40 pick overall

Image result for malik monk hornets

Malik Monk is a gifted shooter and talented scorer with impressive athleticism.  Concerns remain that he becomes the type of player overly reliant on the three-ball.  Players of that archetype tend to have a low impact on a game when their shot isn’t falling.  Monk needs to prove his scoring potential is better than just another shooter and step up his defensive effort to be a plus-NBA player.  His potential as a more athletic C.J. McCollum type player is appealing.  Coaching and opportunity will play a big role in Monk’s development as a scorer.

Dwayne Bacon is more of a project with a solid frame and good athleticism.  His shooting tendencies are rushed coming from Florida State.  The tendency to settle for mid-range jumpers early in the shot clock must be broken.  He is a solid finisher at the rim and in transition.  Bacon has the look and potential to be an average scorer and a plus defender.

Free Agency

Signed

G Michael Carter-Williams

Unsigned from 2016-2017 Roster

G Chris Andersen, G Ramon Sessions, G Brian Roberts, F Christian Wood

Image result for michael carter williams hornets

The Hornets bring in Michael Carter-Williams on a cheap 1-year $2.7M deal.  MCW is a solid defender who can slow down some of the better guards in the league with his length and lateral quickness.  If MCW can continue to understand his shooting limitations and focus on being a team-first distributor, this is a great signing.  The main concern here is his terrible shooting performance (46% true shooting) and whether he can improve on that with reduced usage.  This could be a great upside signing by the Hornets.  The one-year prove-it deals are great motivation for guys like this.

Roster

Dwight Howard C $23,500,000
Nicolas Batum SG $22,434,783
Marvin Williams PF $13,168,750
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF $13,000,000
Cody Zeller C $12,584,270
Kemba Walker PG $12,000,000
Jeremy Lamb SG $7,000,000
Malik Monk SG $2,904,480
Frank Kaminsky C $2,847,600
Michael Carter-Williams PG $2,700,000
Johnny O’Bryant III PF $1,524,305
Julyan Stone PG $1,524,305
Treveon Graham SG $1,312,611
Dwayne Bacon SG $815,615
Isaiah Hicks PF $815,615
T.J. Williams PG $815,615
Mangok Mathiang PF
Marcus Paige PG

Season Outlook

All According to Plan:

  • Dwight Howard is motivated and dominates with rebounding and defensive effort.  Charlotte is a top 5 defensive team.
  • Malik Monk contributes immediately as an off the bench fireball and competes for sixth-man of the year shooting >40% from three.
  • Kemba Walker continues to improve and dominate with great shooting numbers and efficient assists.  All-Star starter.
  • MCW makes the Hornets look smart by hitting shots at a league-average rate and shutting down opposing scorers.
  • Hornets make the playoffs as a 4 or 5 seed and win two rounds before bowing out to the dominant Cavaliers squad.

Not What We Hoped For:

  • Superman is low-effort and sulks when not involved in the offense.
  • Malik Monk becomes one-dimensional and is benched for poor defense.
  • Kemba Walker ends up injured trying to carry the load.
  • MCW still can’t shoot, destroying floor spacing when he is on the floor.
  • The Hornets miss the playoffs again and stay in that weird zone of not competing without a true rebuild.
  • Nicolas Batum is just a league-average player making $22M / year.

Important questions heading into the season:

  1. Does Dwight Howard have more to contribute than his Atlanta effort shows?
  2. Can MCW improve his shooting percentage on limited usage?
  3. How much will Malik Monk contribute?  Can he grow his game around the rim?
  4. Will Kemba Walker continue last year’s dominance?

THANKS FOR READING!  LEAVE A COMMENT TO CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION!
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