A Look At The State Of The Hornets

A Look At The State Of The Hornets

By James Wilson

December 29, 2019

July 1st, the day the news broke of Kemba Walker’s departure from the Charlotte Hornets, was the sad inevitable truth that Hornets fans had to accept. Many had accepted that the greatest player the franchise has ever seen was officially gone. For me, a die hard Hornets fan, I was disappointed not that Walker had left, but that this was another example of small market teams being outdone by big markets. 

It is clear that salary cap has helped the small market more than it has hurt, but “Super Max Deals” is what really kept players like Damien Lillard in Portland. These deals that pay players insane amounts more than they can be owed in free agency has had some success in keeping players in the small town that drafted them. 

Walkers departure was not because of the salary caps failure, but because of Michael Jordan's failure. Michael Jordan has repeatedly insisted on his opinion over the opinion of his coaches and of his managers. It has been reported, albeit from a pretty random couple of sources, that Michael Jordan has passed on two notable players in the recent drafts, Devin Booker and Donavan Mitchell are these names. 

Although these are generational talents, who I would have loved to have on the Hornets, these two players are extremely ball dominant. (Booker more than Mitchell but the point stands) These two players would not have developed nearly as quickly paired with Kemba Walker.

Anyway, the reason all of this matters is that the factors leading to Kemba Walkers departure, are the very same factors that lead to the Hornets having so much young talent. (I am intentionally avoiding the use of “young core” which is an overused phrase that has almost lost all meaning.) 

Had the Hornets been more successful they wouldn’t have landed Devonte Graham. (Although he did slip in the draft all the way to the second round) Without Devonte Graham the Hornets wouldn’t have the success they are currently having. Is it blasphemy to say that we didn’t really need Walker to be higher lotto team in the increasingly weakening east?  

At the time of writing this, the Hornets are 34 games into the season, holding a record of 13-21. Last year with Kemba playing as well as he could the record was 17-17. So Kemba Walker is roughly worth one extra win every 11 games. This is exactly why Kemba left, this franchise in its current state is hard to change, even downwards, the Hornets just can’t stop playing the way they do. It is exactly what I would expect, given the downward slope the Hornets have been on. 

It might be hard to believe but the Hornets tied for the 3rd spot in the east in 2015, (they got the 5th seed because of the tiebreakers between the 4 teams) ever since then, Charlotte has been on a downward spiral.

It is clear that with such little competition to be the ball dominant player, two players have made it their priority to attempt to become the next Hornets leading player, Devonte Graham and Dwayne Bacon. I would say that the hornets could have 3 players averaging 15+ which is to me better than one superstar and a bunch of bums. I would prefer players who can control their own scoring once they get old enough. Graham has proved that his season is not a fluke, he has taken things from Kemba and Tony Parker. Graham theoretically could lead Bacon and maybe even Monk to a solid career and bright enough future. 

When it comes to the Hornets, I am not asking for a championship roster. Just a team capable of making the playoffs and maybe even the second round? The Charlotte Hornets are the same team I have always loved, small market, talented kids, overpaid players and an awesome fan base. In a way, while the Hornets are going through a great change, they are staying the exact same. 

Photo: Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images