The Charlotte Hornets aren’t bad – they’re just inconsistent. They dominated a good San Antonio Spurs team yet crumbled against the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Indiana Pacers, who, granted, are a few of the best teams in the East. But it looks like things are on the upswing over in Buzz City now. Besides the explosive All Star Kemba Walker, who else is the face of this up-and-down Charlotte Hornets team and what can be done to push them into the postseason? Oh, and what might go down in Charlotte before the February 7th trade deadline… if anything? We’ll give you a brief glance at the team and how you can get cheap Charlotte Hornets tickets. (Hint: Shop with Razorgator.)
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Malik Monk & Co.
Shooting guard Malik Monk’s performance might be an analogy for the Charlotte Hornets’ 2018-2019 season so far. Or maybe… he’s the cure?
There was a lot of talk about a sophomore slump, but Malik Monk might well be having the best stretch of his career right now. His growing confidence is noticeable. Monk’s biggest contribution to the team is his three-point shot, despite only sinking around 33% at the end of 2018. January has been looking better for the 21-year-old: He’s had four of his best nights, shooting wise, coming off the bench and scoring in the double digits, averaging 17 points a game, and increasing his defensive impact and playmaking contributions. He put up 20 points against the Grizzlies last week. As of 2019, he’s shooting 43% from beyond the arc.
Cody Zeller has given a bit of a boost to the Hornets this season too, averaging 9.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The seven-foot-tall center is currently out with a hand injury and he’s missed 16 games in a row (during which the Hornets went 8-8) but he could return sometime in the next week. It’s the fourth time in four years that he’s been sidelined with some kind of injury, and the team’s average field goal and three-point shooting stats tend to dip when he’s not on the court. Their turnover percentage also increases. Fingers crossed he’s back in action soon!
Hornets big man Willy Hernangomez has done a great job taking over since Cody Zeller’s injury. After struggling to adjust for a while, Hernangomez has started to outperform other players on the team who might be vying with him for more playing time at center, like Bismack Biyombo and Frank Kaminsky. The 6’11” Spaniard is contributing over seven points and six rebounds per game. If Zeller can get healthy, some are suggesting this might be one place the Hornets can trim the fat and make some trades.
Hornets’ small forward Miles Bridges is a super athletic rookie who’s crucial to both the offense and defense of this team. The 20-year-old is explosive, capable of blocking shots as well as creating them. The worry for Hornets fans is that he might be part of an upcoming trade deal, which would sell this Charlotte team short given the potential upward trajectory he’s on. Keep an eye out!
Kemba Walker is by far the biggest star on this Hornets team. Walker was named a starter in this year’s NBA All Star Game (his second career appearance, but first time as a starter) and he’s made it clear he wants to stay in Charlotte. The 6’1″ Walker is a master of driving, meeting defenders (who are often a foot taller than him), forcing them to foul out, and scoring points from the paint and behind the arc. Being smaller has its advantages, Walker explains, “It’s a lot of different things – using my body, timing. A lot of times, they just can’t time my jumps, just be as crafty as I can, because I’m a small guy… I just try to throw them off as much as possible. It took a lot of time to learn that stuff.”
The dynamic point guard has scored 30 points or more in 14 games this season. Yeah, whoa. He’s averaging almost 25 per game, along with 5.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He’s also crucial down the stretch. He killed the Chicago Bulls last Saturday, dropping an absurd 37 points and 10 assists. Anyway, there’s a reason he’s an All Star. Some have even started to compare him to Allen Iverson with his explosive movements and ability to freeze defenders, not to mention his shooting skills. In case anyone had doubts, it’s now clear that Walker is an elite NBA player.
Veteran shooting guard Jeremy Lamb is getting less playing time since Malik Monk started to come into his own, but he still nabs the most rebounds (5.6) and second-most points per game (14.8) of anybody on the team. Still, we wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb was on the table as part of a potential trade deal. Getting rid of a veteran contract like his would go a long way in freeing up salary cap space. Kaminsky’s name has also been mentioned, and it’s possible that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could be thrown into negotiations too. Or Marvin Williams.
Word on the street is that the Hornets have inquired about Jrue Holiday, shooting guard for the New Orleans Pelicans, potentially for his defensive skills and consistent offense. A week ago, there were rumors that the Hornets were interested in Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond. In return, the Pistons asked about Monk and Nicolas Batum. The latter would be great to get off the books to afford some real (read: expensive) help for Walker.
But it’s clear the Hornets should build any future team and players they hope to acquire around Walker… and then hope that he’s serious about sticking around. We hear the New York Knicks have been eyeing him.
The Hornets are better than they were. And they’re probably better than their .500 record looks from the outside. They’re at the top of the Southeast Division despite their overall ranking of 7th in the East. Still, there’s definitely room for improvement and potential trades that could take them to new heights.