Additions: Tony Parker, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, Bismack Biyombo
Subtractions: Dwight Howard, Treveon Graham, Michael Carter-Williams
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Nicolas Batum
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Cody Zeller
Key Bench Players: Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, Tony Parker, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges
The Hornets are in a very awkward position at the moment. The team has not made the playoffs since the 2015-2016 season when they were eliminated by the Miami Heat in seven games. Their best player, two-time All Star point guard Kemba Walker, is a free agent this next offseason, and should be a candidate to sign with another team. The Hornets are stuck in mediocrity, as they are not good enough for the playoffs and are not bad enough for a high lottery pick. New GM Mitch Kupchak should do everything he can to trade Walker, Nic Batum, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for any available assets. At this point, the worse the Hornets can be, the better.
Trading away Walker also frees up playing time for 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year, Devonte Graham out of Kansas, who the Hornets selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. As of now, Graham is behind Walker and newly signed Tony Parker for the point guard position, and there is a possibility some minutes might be stolen by Malik Monk if coach James Borrego wants to experiment with the second year Kentucky guard in a lead guard role. Monk had an incredibly inconsistent rookie year and only averaged 6.7 PPG, 1 RPG, and 1.4 APG on 36.0/34.2/84.2 shooting. In his one year at Kentucky, Monk was an incredibly streaky scorer but when hot, had the ability to completely take over the game. I expect him to see more playing time in his second year behind Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb to give the Hornets a potential franchise building block for the future.
Charlotte’s best chance in finding a new franchise player may be in Miles Bridges, the 12th overall pick out of Michigan State who flashed mismatch potential from the wing position in his two years in the Big 10. The 6’7, 220 pound wing can play both forward positions due to his incredible athleticism, explosiveness, and a seemingly reliable three point stroke. His playing time is directly correlated with the front office and coaching staff’s view of the team. If they decide they want to fight for a playoff spot, I would not expect a large dosage of minutes for the rookie, but if Kupchak decides to trade away Walker, Batum, and other veterans to seek a higher draft pick, Bridges should be seeing plenty of playing time. I believe Bridges was one of the more pro-ready rookies in the past draft class, but the decision is ultimately Coach Borrego’s.
This is a defining season for the Hornets. They have to make a decision for their future. Do they want another year stuck fighting for maybe an 8 seed and landing a draft pick in the 10-14 range? Or do they want to unload their veterans like they did with Dwight Howard over the offseason to give their youngsters more playing time to develop? It is time for owner Michael Jordan to put aside his pride and enter a full rebuild stage for the future of this franchise.
Picture Courtesy of Swarm and Sting (Kemba Walker)
*You can find yesterday’s article on the Brooklyn Nets here.
Up next tomorrow: Chicago Bulls
University of South Carolina ’21