The Scouting Report: Charlotte Hornets
Projected starting line-up: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, Al Jefferson.
It hasn’t been long since we’ve seen the Hornets. 15 days ago, the Trail Blazers came back from 23 points down to beat the Hornets in Portland. It was bad loss for Charlotte, who bounced back to win in Phoenix a few days later. But since then they’ve lost six in a row and eight of their last nine.
There weren’t many picking the Hornets as contenders but it wasn’t an uncommon assumption to feel like they’d be better. By adding Lance Stephenson, they added a dynamic wing threat that they didn’t have before and is hard to find. But Stephenson has been terrible this season.
Lance leads everyone on the team who gets significant minutes in turnover and he’s shooting 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from the three-point line. He does lead the team in assists and rebounds but if he’s going to be a big part of the team, he can’t continue to shoot the way he is.
The injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a bummer for them and does hurt their perimeter defense. The Hornets were one of the league’s best defensive teams in the NBA last season and overall this season they are a disappointing 21st overall after being in the top-five last season.
Kemba Walker isn’t playing as well as he can and it seems like there is a little bit of uncertainty who is the primary playmaker on the team between he and Stephenson. Perhaps it’s a fit issue that can be resolved over time. But so far it seems like the big splash signing of Stephenson and plugging Marvin Williams for Josh McRoberts hasn’t helped.
Of course you can’t overreact about a bad start and in the Eastern Conference, once again, they’ll still be right in the hunt to get into the playoffs. The Hornets are 4-11 so far but they are only three games behind the 8th place Pacers, whom the Hornets lost to last week.
The Stephenson experiment is still in its trial stages and perhaps his shooting improves and the team defense comes along. Cody Zeller looks to be a little bit better this season, averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
Head coach Steve Clifford has tinkered and tweaked with is rotations, putting Bismack Biyombo back in the rotation ahead of Jason Maxiell. Reserve guard Gary Neal has been shooting very well from the three-point line all season. He was also 0.1 seconds away from sending the last match-up to overtime.
The Hornets will be hungry for a win before the holiday to stop their losing ways. Meanwhile, the Blazers have a chance to extend their win streak to nine games before they face the Grizzlies on Friday. Memphis has the best record in the NBA and they face the Lakers tonight.