A Tale of Two Kitties

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The 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats are widely considered to be the worst basketball team of all time.  At 7-59 in a lockout shortened season, their winning percentage was .106, a record for futility.  The odds of obtaining the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft–and a guaranteed franchise player in the University of Kentucky’s Anthony Davis–were ever in their favor.

Fate had other ideas.

The New Orleans Hornets, the franchise that abandoned Charlotte years earlier (due in large part to the very public fallout from an affair then-owner George Schinn had with one of the team’s cheerleaders, or “Honeybees”) won the pick.  The Bobcats, the worst team of all-time, would select second.

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The University of Kentucky Wildcats–famous of late for housing coach John Calipari’s one-and-done NBA product assembly line–had just won the NCAA championship, led not by freshman Anthony Davis, but by another freshman, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, who stepped up in the NCAA Tournament when Davis faltered.

It was Kidd-Gilchrest who the Bobcats would take with their number two pick, passing up Florida freshman sensation Bradley Beal (a 2018 NBA All-Star), Weber State’s Damian Lillard (a Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star), Connecticut freshman Andre Drummond (a former All-Star), and Draymond Green, the NABC Player of the Year from Michigan State (a three-time NBA All-Star, two time All-NBA section, the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time NBA champion).

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Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist because he dominated the NCAA title game was a risky move, but not an unprecedented one for the franchise (see: Kemba Walker, or perhaps the modern-day equivalent–drafting Malik Monk because he had the game of his life against UNC on national television).  Hindsight being 20/20, it is easy to argue that the Bobcats should have selected Damian Lillard (despite the fact that they already had Kemba Walker) or Draymond Green (who is a much better MKG than MKG, but who also slipped to the second round), but the consensus media pick at the time was Bradley Beal.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t a terrible pick at the time, but he was no Anthony Davis.

That’s not a knock on MKG.  Anthony Davis is likely a once-in-a-generation type of player, a player who loves Charlotte, has family in Charlotte, and definitely should have been a Charlotte Bobcat.  Over his career, the Brow has averaged 22.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2.3 blocks, versus MKG’s 9.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 0.8 blocks. A comparison of advanced analytics wouldn’t be fair to put into print.

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I bring this brief comparison up in the aftermath of the latest Pelicans vs. Hornets game because matchups between the two teams always leave me wondering what could have been.  An Eastern Conference franchise built around Kemba Walker and Anthony Davis would have been fun to watch, to say the least.  The stuff dreams are made of for Hornets fans.

I will leave you with a couple questions:

  1. Pelicans is still a terrible name for a team, am I right?

2) Does anyone else wonder if Michael Jordan traded the top pick to New Orleans for the right to bring the Hornets name back to Charlotte?

2b) Would you rather have the Hornets name and colors back or Anthony Davis in a Bobcats jersey?

Rookie Mistake

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Greetings, and welcome to my first post for Baseline Buzz!

First, a brief history: I have been a Charlotte Basketball fan since 1988. My family owned season tickets during the franchise’s golden age (top row section 238, seats 1 and 2). I was at the playoff game when Zo hit the shot to beat the Celtics, and I was at every home playoff game in 2001 when the Bugs swept the Heat (and would have beaten the Bucks if Sam Cassell would have kept his glad-hands off the refs’ backsides). During the decade I lived in San Francisco, I bought NBA League Pass every year specifically for the purpose of watching every Bobcats game, and I was surely the only person to ever purchase a ticket to a game in Oracle Arena to cheer on Gerald Wallace. And no disrespect to Muggsy, Kendall, Johnny Newman, LJ and Zo, but I believe the greatest Hornets lineup of all-time was Baron Davis, David Wesley, Jamal Mashburn, PJ Brown and Elden Campbell (and the best bench player on that team was Eddie Robinson, for what it’s worth).

With Adam’s departure from Baseline Buzz, I am stepping in midseason and attempting to fill some gigantic shoes. It is no simple task, to say the least. Rather than pick one thing to hone in on, I am going to about two bad things, two unknown quantities, and two good things. Without further ado.

NEGATIVES

—Steve Clifford’s Refusal to Give Rookies Meaningful Minutes

Look, I get it. Steve Clifford is an old-school coach, and making rookies earn their place in the Association is an old-school move. The problem is that the Hornets are not old-school good.

I like Steve Clifford, and he is a much better coach than his predecessor. He seems like he would be a fun guy to have a beer with. But his propensity for driving rookies into the ground before they get their feet wet is one of his least endearing qualities. Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon are both solid picks with gigantic potential upsides, but they need to play in order to develop into anything more than second or third-tier role players. Bacon is a solid second-rounder—if he develops into a solid NBA player, that is all gravy. But Monk needs to be in games early and often. He is a rhythm shooter, and you can’t develop rhythm on the bench. Give him meaningful minutes now, and he could be a star. Bench him so he can “learn the game” and he could be…. reverse-MKG?

—The Dwight Howard Experiment

Speaking of old-school basketball.

Unlike Adam, I hated the Dwight Howard trade from the beginning. The shedding of Plumlee’s contract was huge, and Howard’s star power is undeniable, but Dwight has a reputation of being a cancer in the locker room, and he is an admitted child-abuser.

That being said, he is putting up All-Star numbers on the basketball court, he obviously cares about the team’s performance, and I get the sense that he is trying very hard to push his teammates into the playoffs.

The problem is that he is a black hole on offense. A large portion of the Hornets’ plays so far this season consist of Kemba (or MCW) bringing the ball up court, passing it to Dwight, and then dropping back and watching Dwight either shoot or pump fake until he gets fouled.

In the past, the Hornets offense has worked with Cody Zeller at center because the CZA knows how to make the second, third and fourth pass to a cutting teammate or a shooter out on the perimeter. Of course Cody has been injured for a season and a half, so he hasn’t been an option of late.

Look, Dwight Howard is very good at basketball. There is a solution out there, I am just not sure if that solution is to teach Dwight how to pass to his teammates or look to trade him to a contender who needs a center that doesn’t know how to pass to his teammates. Either way, he has been a disruption to offenses on both sides of the floor.

 
UNKNOWNS

—The Coaching Situation

Coach Clifford took a hiatus from the team for undisclosed health-related issues, and though Stephen Silas has a strong tie to Charlotte Basketball’s past (his father is former Hornets coach and current season ticket holder Paul “Huggy Bear” Silas), he doesn’t appear to be the answer should Clifford’s health or job performance become a longer term issue.

Jason Kidd just became available.  Just throwing that out there.

—The Kemba Walker Fiasco

Floating Kemba Walker’s name in trade conversations was a mistake.  Woj knows all and Woj tells all. The only scenarios that make sense regarding this mistake:

1) Motivation

Kemba has been a little stagnant of late. Maybe a trade rumor is the fire he needed to get going.

2) A Godfather Offer

An offer along the lines of Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love and the Brooklyn pick or a package including Andrew Wiggins makes sense for both sides (Minnesota has always been high on Batum).

3) The Steph Factor

There is a Berenstainian possibility that a trade of Kemba Walker could pull Steph Curry further towards the Hornets in the future.

Reasoning: If Kemba does not get traded, he is all but guaranteed to pass Dell Curry as the leading scorer in Charlotte Basketball history.  A trade to preserve Papa Curry’s legacy is sure to be looked upon favorably.

Now, the trade scenarios that do not make sense:

1) Cap Relief

I don’t believe the Hornets are willing to dismantle their franchise to save a few bucks so long as Jordan is at the helm. Jordan wants to win, even if he hasn’t figured out how to do so as an owner.

2) Anything Involving Draft Picks

The Hornets are terrible at drafting and even worse at developing rookies. Trading an All-Star caliber player for draft picks does not make sense for this franchise.

Onto:

 
POSITIVES

—The Remaining Schedule

Over the first half of the season, the Hornets had one of the toughest schedules in the league (anywhere from the toughest to the fifth toughest, depending on metrics used). For the remainder of the season, they have the easiest schedule in the league. Barring further injury or a dumb trade, the playoffs are still in reach (as of this writing, the Hornets stand four games back of the 76ers for the eighth seed).

—Chemistry

The advantage of developing an organization where you draft and retain players is that the players have the opportunity to learn together and grow together as professionals. Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon have all spent the entirety of their careers as products of the same developmental system. They don’t know anything different than Charlotte Basketball. Injuries to MKG and Zeller have derailed several potentially prime years, but they still know how to contribute if they are able, and everyone mentioned above is still very young.

And speaking of oft-injured players, Nic Batum isn’t a native Hornet, but he has recently built a house in Charlotte, so one can imagine that he has bought into the organization as much as he possibly can. If Dwight Howard and Michael Carter-Williams are able to become more comfortable with their teammates, good basketball could be over the horizon.


 

It’s Time to Hang It Up

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Over the past decade I have had the pleasure of being a part of a truly special Charlotte Hoops community. Hornets fans may not have title banners or Hall of Fame numbers but we have a knowledgeable, passionate and (mostly) kind base of fans who have ignored the struggles of the franchise and become the positive community that we are. Today I’m officially moving on from this community.

I’ve been a Hornets fan since 1988 – when I was an eleven year old chubby kid who was inspired to become more athletic and outgoing so that I could be like my heroes Muggsy, Dell, LJ, Kendall and Zo.

It’s been nearly 30 years of highs and lows. Thousands of games, tens of thousands of hours in the arena(s) and in front of the TV, volumes of Street & Smith’s NBA previews, Insider posts and Fake Trade Machine dork simulations.

Most recently it has been time spent with you all either here on the blog or on Twitter discussing, sometimes arguing – often agreeing – on the pluses and minuses of our favorite squad.

Even if we virulently disagreed on a point, you encouraged me to better articulate my stance and sometimes change my view entirely. You often made me laugh. You always made me appreciate your company.

As to why I’ve decided to move on from hardcore fandom, all I can say is that it is time.

Big thanks to each and every one of you who have read my posts and followed my tweets over the years. Your time is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes to you all and may there be some truly great highs in the Hornets’ future. The fans absolutely deserve it.

-ASChin aka “BaselineBuzz”, December 6th 2017

 

The Case for Point Guard Malik Monk

The-Case-For-Malik-Monk-Point-Guard
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Real talk: Malik Monk was horrendous through his first seven pro games. Outside of his 17 point effort versus the Nuggets (with former coach John Calipari in the building) there was little to be excited about.

Monk shot 20 for 68 from the field (29%) through this stretch – not good considering that shooting was supposedly his one surefire NBA skill heading into the Draft. His defense was awful (so bad that I caught Jeremy freaking Lamb shaking his head when Malik lost his man for the gazzilionth time). Worst of all, Monk was a turnover machine, averaging nearly 2 TOs per game in just over 20 minutes per.

Not all of this was the rookie’s fault. Injuries to both Hornet backup PGs (Michael Carter-Williams & Julyan Stone) forced Monk into a lead ball handler role he wasn’t ready for in the NCAA much less the pros.

Yet some of these problems are (and will continue to be) endemic to the type player Monk is. His handle at the moment is loose and when a defender locks in, Monk resorts to a nervous head down dribble in the full court. Given his size, strength and ability, Monk is essentially fated to guard ones and micro-twos so playing him next to Kemba for long stretches will be difficult against good teams. If and when Malik goes through his physical “mansformation”, this could change but that won’t be for several seasons.

No one’s been more critical of Rich Cho’s decision to draft Monk over a ready-made defensive beast who can shoot (Donovan Mitchell) than me – and through Malik’s first seven contests I was terrified that Charlotte’s front office had done what they do best again: Nail trades (Dwight Howard) and blow the Draft (Monk).

Malik’s effort Wednesday night against Milwaukee lowered my stress levels by half. Aside from the ridiculous 4th quarter explosion (18 points in a blink of an eye – we knew he was capable of that pre-Draft), what warmed my teal and purple soul was Monk’s carefulness as a ball handler and how he was able to play within his niche.

So much of Malik’s struggles early on were due to his insistence on trying to do everything on offense. Against the Bucks he focused on catch & shoot opportunities and jump shots off screens – which perfectly setup two impressive dribble drives midway thought the 4th. He was beautifully efficient. Much credit to both Malik and the coaching staff for figuring this out so early in the season.

The Off Court Benefits of Monk at Point Guard

Cho and Steve Clifford have more than just on-court reasons for accelerating Monk’s ability to play point. For the reasons stated above, if Malik is going to reach his apex as an NBA player – and for the team to succeed while he does so – Monk is going to have to play a lot of his minutes at the one.

When (if?) this apex is achieved, the trickle-down benefits carry enormous ramifications. For one, Charlotte can finally end its yearly bargain-bin search for a primary backup to Kemba Walker and instead invest those meager funds in a quality third string player should either Monk or Walker miss time.

Malik’s rookie deal keeps him cheap until the 2020-2021 season, timing perfectly with Nic Batum’s near max deal. The only reason to pay a player like Nic that kind of money is to team him with a lead guard who’d rather play like a primary scorer. That’s obviously true now with Kemba in his prime and could continue as Malik approaches his.

Once Batum returns this season, I expect him to play quite a lot with the 2nd unit (as he did last year), especially now that Lamb has proven to be such a great fit with the starters. An early rest for Nic would see him playing most of the 2nd quarter with Monk at nominal point, creating more efficient scoring opportunities for the rook.

Perhaps most importantly, an effective Monk at PG can cut Kemba’s minutes down to the low thirties. Walker has had two knee surgeries in as many summers and the big minutes slowed him down late last season. With unrestricted free agency (and a massive contract) looming just 18 months from now, the less wear and tear on the 27 year old star, the better.

Future Concerns

Speaking of that next contract (and yes, I know it’s nearly two seasons away), it’s important to remember that Walker will be 29 when he signs it and potentially coming off of three straight All-Star appearances.

What happens if the Knicks decide to break the bank in order to bring the Bronx native home at the full max? Do the Hornets really want to be on the hook for that kind of contract? Is a 33 year old Walker at around $30 million per season a wise move?

What if Kemba has yet another knee procedure? How does his game age? No one wants to think about this now that he’s balling out (including me) but rest assured, these questions are being contemplated by the Hornets front office.

And if they look into deep recesses of Rich Cho’s database, they may see a scenario in which Monk is not only Kemba’s short term backup at PG but his longterm replacement should things go awry.

In that case, it’s very important for Monk to not only improve as a pro but to improve at a position few expected him to ever play.

–ASChin
@baselinebuzz

Attitude Era | Thoughts on Malik Monk and the 2017 Draft

Malik Monk | Hornets Attitude Era
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WWE broadcast legend Jim Ross, AKA The Greatest Announcer of All-Time, had a wonderful way of describing former tag team champs The Hardy Boyz.

“Matt is the steak, Jeff is the sizzle.”

In just eight words, Ross was able to articulate the very essence of what makes something both of high quality and desirable.

The “steak” in Ross-speak refers to the fundamentals, the solid foundation on which anything worthwhile is crafted. The steak is consistent, dependable and organized. It is necessary, appreciated and well-regarded by the rational mind.

The “sizzle”, conversely, is the stuff that glimmers, the eye-catching, the holy sh*t I can’t believe what I just saw moments that inspire jaws to drop and motivates butts out of seats. It bypasses all intellect and goes straight to the most basic part of our brains. It is electric.

Time for Excitement

Prior to Thursday night, the Hornets were Matt Hardy. Proudly so, I would add. After nearly a decade of being neither steak nor sizzle, Charlotte had worked hard to finally build a foundation of fundamental competence.

Now, nearly five seasons into the Steve Clifford era, it was finally time to add a little bit of OHMYGAWD.

Expect the Unexpected

The moment Commissioner Silver called his name, Malik Monk instantly became the Hornets’ most explosive athlete. All due respect to Marvin Williams and Dwight Howard – veteran power dunkers who can still surprise with the occasional poster jam – but up until Monk, Charlotte had no one else on the roster who could rise and throw down.

Thirty-six feet from the basket? Two defenders on him? Malik will levitate and shoot over you.

Opposing defense locked in, no good look in sight? Malik will take and make those “no-no-no-YES!buckets that can charge a crowd and demoralize the opponent.

No Risk No Reward

In my Offseason Preview, I highlighted the fact that the Hornets’ current regime has played it safe in the Draft over the past six or seven years – opting for solid singles and doubles over homerun swings.

That all changed Thursday night. With two high-floor, rotation ready guys staring them in the face (Donovan Mitchell, Luke Kennard), Charlotte bucked the trend and went with a small-ish two guard with a streaky shot and major questions on defense.

Monk’s slight frame and below average length demand that he be matched up defensively against opposing point guards exclusively. And given that the team’s best player, (Kemba) can’t guard wings either – expect the duo to play VERY LIMITED minutes together initially.

In fact, Monk’s size limitations at SG will dictate who Charlotte targets as their backup point guard in either free agency or via the trade market. Ideally, Monk’s backcourt partner would have the following qualities:

  • Size and strength to guard SGs
  • Lead Guard Skills
  • Spot Up Shooting Ability

If you’re scratching your head trying to think of players who have all of these qualities (and are available), don’t worry – you’re not alone. There’s simply not many backup point guards who fit that description around.

They Got 0-9 Reasons

Even with the complications Monk adds to the team’s roster configuration – it’s still easy to understand why the team drafted him.

As I mentioned in our Offseason Preview, the Hornets were 0-9 in games decided by three points or less last season and lost all six of their overtime games. How many fourth quarter leads were blown simply due to Kemba resting and/or being gassed? How many winnable games were given away simply because Walker dared to have an off night?

If Monk’s collegiate ability to get buckets translates, he instantly upgrades Charlotte’s ability to stay in and close games that they’d become expert at giving away.
Oh, and he may just add a little excitement while doing it.

Baseline Bites

  • Whoever the Hornets sign as their backup point guard is bound to play big minutes. Clifford LOVES playing Kemba alongside a big lead guard (see Lin, Jeremy) and no doubt the team craves insurance if (when?) Walker misses any time. Once you factor in those minutes at both guard spots, Monk’s 20 or so per night and MKG/Nic’s split time at SF, there’s only around 8-10 minutes per night remaining for another rotation wing. Jeremy Lamb ain’t gonna be too happy about that. Add in the fact that the team’s 2nd Round pick, Dwayne Bacon, plays a style that’s very similar to Lamb and it doesn’t take a hoops Nostradamus to foresee a potential JLamb trade sooner than later.
  • Did Sacramento win the Draft or lose it? I can’t decide. While De’Arron Fox is a fine character prospect with upside, I’m worried about a lead guard who can’t shoot. Justin Jackson is a 22 and a half year old meh wing who weighs less than one of Ike Anigbogu’s legs. Harry Giles may never fully rebound from his dual ACL surgeries. As uncharacteristically responsible as the Kings were on Thursday, they may have been better off just standing pat and taking Monk at 10. Their loss, our gain.
  • Who was a bigger Draft winner than NC State’s Dennis Smith? Smith seemed destined to be a classic big stats/bad team guy. Y’know, the kind of player who goes to Orlando or New York to average 18ppg for the first six or seven years of his career only to disappear from the league by the time he was 30. Not so anymore. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, responsible vets around him and solid ownership in Dallas, Smith will have every chance to max out this talents.
  • Will Charlotte ever just keep a 2nd Round pick instead of either siphoning off cash in a trade down or outright selling? I get that Bob Johnson’s mismanagement (and stupid TV deal) leaked cash for years but good lord – even freaking Memphis moved into the Draft. If one of those guys taken from 31-39 pop (Ojeleye, Rabb, Bell, Bolden, etc), MJ will only have himself to blame.

-ASChin
@baselinebuzz


 

POLL : Best Offseason Addition for Hornets

  • Dwight Howard (25%, 8 Votes)
  • Malik Monk (50%, 16 Votes)
  • Dwayne Bacon (22%, 7 Votes)
  • Michael Carter-Williams (3%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 32

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Tyson in Reverse | The Baseline Breaks Down the Dwight Howard Trade

Dwight Howard Traded to Charlotte
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Back in July of 2010 then Charlotte head coach Larry Brown and GM Rod Higgins made what is widely considered one of the worst trades of the NBA millenium.

The Bobcats were over the cap and in danger of breaching the luxury tax. They needed to dump salary fast. Their solution: trade Tyson Chandler (who had spent his lone year in Charlotte either hurt or in Brown’s doghouse) to the Mavericks for the immediate cap relief of Erik Dampier’s non-guaranteed deal and the bloated multi-year contracts of Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera.

Ten months later Chandler was helping Dirk win a ring while career 9th/10th men Najera and Carroll bloated Charlotte’s payroll and took up precious roster spots for years. It was a salary dump trade in which the dumper ended up taking on more salary in the longterm. This move all but cemented the Bobcats’ reputation as a league-wide joke.

A New Era of Competence

Seven years later Charlotte is no longer the laughingstock. In fact, they’ve completely turned the tables by becoming the fleecer in such a deal rather than the fleeced. And it’s all due to competence.

See what happens when your GM and Coach work together?

COMPETENCE: As a former assistant in Orlando, Steve Clifford has long had a great relationship with Dwight Howard. He understands Howard’s game and personality. Few other NBA staffs are in a position to maximize late career Dwight like Charlotte’s. If Dwight is going to achieve a renaissance anywhere in the league it will be as a Hornet.

MORE COMPETENCE: Rich Cho’s negotiating and cap management skills allowed the Hornets to upgrade their short term talent situation, dump seemingly un-dumpable salary and boost their 2nd Round pick to near 1st Round status all in one trade.

This single transaction encapsulates what can happen when both men – each the best this organization has seen at their respective positions – play to their strengths in unison. Bravo, gentlemen.

Worst Case is Still a Better Case

“Yeah, this is a great trade and all…if it was 2011 LMFAO!!!”
–Basic Twitter Troll

Let’s assume disaster for a moment: That the worst of Dwight’s childish antics distract and disrupt. That his soon to be 32 year old body breaks down before the final two years of his contract expire. That his fit on the court never materializes and that he essentially becomes a $50m version of last season’s Roy Hibbert.

The trade is still a win. Why? Let us count the ways:

I. Miles Plumlee is not only a worse player by any measurement but his 3 year contract ran a year longer than Dwight’s. By making the trade, a currently capped out Charlotte team will be able to play in free agency a year earlier than expected.

II. Which is great because guess who is due for a new contract during that time? Kemba Walker. Also both Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can opt out that summer so more flexibility in July of 2019 = a VERY GOOD THING.

III. Did I mention that they dumped Plumlee? It was widely viewed as one of the league’s least tradeable contracts and they did so without having to include a pick or prospect to sweeten the deal (see the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell as a counterexample of this).

IV. In fact, Cho was able to somehow move up in the Draft – going from pick 41 of a deep class to 31. That’s the first pick of the 2nd Round, a very interesting spot indeed (more on this later).

V. If Dwight becomes a major problem off or on the court, Charlotte can just tell him to stay home or try and trade him as an expiring next summer. His salary is still less damaging timing-wise than Plumlee’s.

Best Case is Insane

Ok. So what if Dwight isn’t Lance Stephenson 2.0? What if he accepts his role, plays (mostly) hard, takes his vitamins and says his prayers (brother)? Well then, things are suddenly bright indeed.

I. Suppose you have a center who is aging, struggles with back problems and can’t quite play 36 minutes a night anymore…wouldn’t you want to pair him with…

II. A younger center whose body type and strength also prevent him from playing big minutes at the five every night for 82 games. A player who is more mobile guarding on the perimeter, a player who is different in style just enough to give you another look but not so different that you have to change the way you play when he’s out there.

III. Yes I am talking about the potentially tremendous center platoon of Dwight and Cody. Should they be able to put their past feuds and egos (well, ego) behind them this combination should finally give Clifford 48 respectable defensive minutes at center for the first time in his 5 season tenure.

IV. Lack of backup center plagued the Hornets last season. When Cody sat, the team dropped from 3rd in the league in defensive efficiency to 24th.

V. Did I mention defensive rebounding? Because Cliff is obsessed with that stuff and the Hornets (aside from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) have lacked a true rebounding beast since Big Al’s All-NBA season a few years back. Say what you will about Dwight’s declining game but the man can still ball-board (8th in DRPG, 8th in Contested DRPG). Oh yeah, Howard also ranked 2nd in offensive rebounds and contested ORBPG – so if Cliff finally allows a player to crash the offensive glass, Dwight can convert ‘em.

VI. Rim protection – while Howard is no longer the shot blocking golem he once was (nearly 3 blocks per 36 minutes during his prime, down to 1.5 last season), his strength and reputation will provide at least as much detterence as Cody when Zeller sits. This is a good thing.

VII. Given Dwight’s seniority and rep, it’s a near lock that he’ll be the starter with Cody coming off the bench. Which incidentally means that the Hornets will go from having one of the worst backup center situations in the league to one of the best.

What Next?

With the Draft a little more than 24 hours away, the Hornets roster makeup and motivation for next season is much clearer:

I. The team still has two primary positional needs: Backup PG and Backup Wing

II. After dealing Marco Belinelli in the Howard trade, Charlotte has exactly one player on the roster who shot greater than 36% from three last season (Kemba)

III. Which leads me to believe that unless a highly rated point guard drops (Dennis Smith), the Hornets will use that pick on Duke’s Luke Kennard – who is widely regarded as the best shooter in this class.

IV. While I still love Donovan Mitchell and his game, his shot is streaky and with the point guard market petering out league-wide (Russell to BRK, Fultz to PHI have started a chain reaction), it will be much easier to find a backup one via trade or free agency than a sharp-shooting wing.

V. Kennard’s play-making from the two would also give Charlotte some minor insurance should Batum miss any extended time (which would be a very, very bad thing).

2nd Round Scenarios

If the Hornets do indeed keep their newly acquired 2nd Rounder (they’ve sold or traded all but one in the Cho era) then they’re in prime position to get a potential rotation player on the cheap which would put Cho’s negotiation skills further to the test:

If Cho can uncover a quality player at 31 and then sign him to something like the famed “Hinkie Special” 2yrs + Non-Guaranteed Year + Team Option Year – or even a standard 2-3 year 2nd Round contractyou’re looking at possibly adding in a rotation guy for around $1m per over the next few seasons. For a team as cap strapped as Charlotte this would be HUGE.

As to who they could target with this pick – I have no idea. They worked out Terrance Fergusan and he may drop there. Harry Giles may scare teams off of longterm guaranteed money so could fall. Guys like Josh Hart and Frank Jackson will be there as well. This is strictly a best player available situation and given the depth of this Draft, Charlotte has a shot at a good one.

Give Rich Cho an Extension Already

Cho is in the last year of his contract and MJ has yet to extend him – this trade alone should get him one.

Even if Howard doesn’t play a game for Charlotte, the team was able to trade an untradeable contract while upgrading their draft position and cleared the books for an incredibly important 2019 Free Agency period.

Karmic payback complete. Tyson Chandler helped Dallas win a title. Cho, Cliff and Dwight helped win Charlotte some respectability.

-ASChin
@baselinebuzz

 

Quick Bounce: Next Rookie Pick

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The Hornets are going to make their pick at selection number 11 next week. Who should they choose to add to their roster? It might be tough to find a young prospect that can contribute immediately, but let’s hope they land a talent that can develop and produce sooner than later.

Share your opinions on who’s name the Hornets should call on Thursday night.

POLL : Who Should the Hornets Draft?

  • Zach Collins (9%, 7 Votes)
  • De’Aaron Fox (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Dennis Smith (19%, 15 Votes)
  • Frank Ntilikina (12%, 9 Votes)
  • Donovan Mitchell (40%, 31 Votes)
  • Luke Kennard (14%, 11 Votes)
  • Trade the Pick (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 78

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