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Since 1988, the year that Charlotte was blessed with a NBA presence, the team has had 32 first-round picks in the draft. There have been some good ones: Larry Johnson, Alozo Mourning, Baron Davis, Kemba Walker, and Kobe Bryant. Ouch. That last one must hurt for Charlotte fans. There have been some horrible ones: Adam Morrison. Is this where a mic drop is appropriate? Anyways, out of all the 32 first-rounders that the Hornets/Bobcats have selected over the years, Cody Zeller may be in the top-tier for most valuable. What what? Zeller missed 20 games last season. In those games, the Hornets went 3-17. In terms of ORtg difference, Kemba was +10.1. Zeller? +10.4. Nicolas Batum was the next closest with a +3.7. Ladies and gentlemen, your Charlotte Hornets.

2016 record: 36-46

Key acquisitions:

Key losses:

Outlook:

Well, the win total for the last four years has been 36, 48, 33, and 43. All those tests I took when I was little have taught me that the next number in the sequence will be 53. Rejoice Charlotte!!! Ha! If only it were that easy. I think the top seven in the Eastern Conference is solidified with Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Miami. The Hornets have as good a chance as any to get that final eighth seed. It all comes down to health….for one Cody Zeller!!! Don’t ask me why but the movie You Don’t Mess with the Zohan keeps popping into my brain. Make it stop!

PG – As much as I talk positively about Zeller, this is Kemba’s team.

He shot 18 times per game last season, attempted and made more three-pointers, and increased his scoring output by three points per game. Love his game as he can do it all. He did have knee surgery back in May, but played in the Africa Game in August, so things look fine. Walker has missed 52 games in his six year career, but only four in the past two years. Michael Carter-Williams is backing up Kemba. I think that’s all you need to know how management feels about Kemba’s knee.

SGNicolas Batum is slated to start at shooting guard. I’m always surprised he doesn’t block more shots, as he’s 6′ 8″ and moves well, but he contributes in every other category. 15 ppg, 6 rpg, 6 apg, 1 spg, and around two three-pointers per game with an elite free throw percentage is sumptuous in my book. Malik Monk is second on the depth chart….for now. I love Monk and think he’s going to be a really good player. I could see plenty of minutes with Monk at the 2 with Batum at the 3. Monk is going to be a beast in transition because of his athleticism, but where he’s going to make the most impact is his J and IQ on utilizing screens. I’m super excited to see a Kemba/Monk backcourt going forward.

SFMichael Kidd-Gilchrist is a 3-and-D player without the 3 part. He’s going to have a role, but I could definitely see his minutes getting shaved. As I mentioned above, I can see tons of minutes with Monk at the 2 with Batum at the 3. Lamb had a tough time garnering minutes last season. It could be tougher this year. He’s a skilled player that provides offensive punch, but may be best utilized in DFS when he gets a spot start.

PF – Remember when Marvin Williams was the second overall pick in the draft? Exactly. With that said, he’s a nice player that can do it all. Will he ever be the hot trophy companion that gets everyone to turn their heads your way when you enter the room? Naw. Will he ever help you finish your dissertation on the complexities of <insert something that sounds smart>? Naw. He will be there to lend a shoulder to lean on. He will fix the door that creaks when you open/close it. Nothing sexy, but essential. And with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Hornets select….Frank Kaminsky? With Justice Winslow, Myles Turner, and Devin Booker available? Don’t you love hindsight? But still! Anyways, I like Frank. He’s a skilled big man that can stretch and space the floor. He passes well and seems to have a high basketball IQ. With that said, he’s so limited and doesn’t contribute much in other categories.

C – Why did the Hornets sign Dwight when they have Zeller on the roster?!

Ok, I get it. The Hornets wanted more toughness and rebounding. Is Dwight the player you want to pursue for those things though? Well, he’s never averaged less than 10 rebounds per game in his 13 year career. Impressive. Toughness? Not so sure. Side rant. I was just listening to the Finding Darko podcast and kind of thought of Dwight. If you don’t know the story, Darko Milicic was the overall number two pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He’s often cited as being one of the bigger draft busts in NBA history. To make a long story short, Milicic basically played basketball because he was tall. It wasn’t like he loved the game or anything. The game found him. I feel like the same thing happened with Dwight. He was tall so he played basketball. I don’t think basketball is his passion though. I could be wrong, as I don’t personally know the guy. I just always got that impression. Anyways, after a plethora of injuries, especially to the back, Dwight isn’t as nimble as he once was. I think that affects him on the glass, in transition, and on perimter defense. In my opinion, Zeller is the better option at center for the Hornets. I’m hoping the Hornets come to their senses as the season unfolds, but I see $23.5 million reasons why they won’t. Since we cannot rely on prayer and hope, I must reluctantly downgrade Zeller due the presence of one Dwight Howard.

  1. Lasandro says:
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    Zeller was so damn good for them last season and it mystified me when CHA signed Dwight. He’s not nearly as good a role man as Cody, and not as tough or agile IMO. Clifford really didn’t think this one through. The Batum-Zeller PnR is one of the best in the league. So much for that..

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Lasandro: Well said

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