Not to intentionally be negative, but I don’t get a “good feeling” about this year’s Charlotte Hornets.
I think it’s the lack of star power. And the lack of proven depth. Let’s go ahead and add in my concerns about three-point shooting. We can probably also tally my worries about reliable post play.
To be honest, this team did not upgrade its roster in the offseason. The front office committed major resources to retaining Nic Batum. Execs also kept Marvin Williams. But the resurgent and energetic Jeremy Lin is gone (Nets) and the elder statesman and solid locker room presence of Al Jefferson are also gone (Pacers).
Replacements? Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions, Marco Bellinelli and a healthy? (always a question mark) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Too much pressure will rest on Kemba Walkers back; He will be expected to be a star, carrying the scoring load, set up the offense and play pretty much fantastically all season. There’s not another player on this roster that can do those things consistently (maybe save for Batum — and a growing Frank Kaminsky who I expect to have a solid second season in the league) and who would be a sure-fire starter on almost every other NBA roster.
There are a lot of role players on this team after Walker. And you don’t win NBA championships with role players. You also, quite honestly, don’t win NBA championships in small-market cities, and that unfortunately for us Hornets fans is exactly what we are.
The good news is that the Hornets play in a relatively weak division. I expect Atlanta to contend for a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference, but I don’t see any other Southeast teams doing that.
Last season, the Hornets won 48 games, the franchise’s most victories since 49 in the 1999-2000 season. As a fan base, we shouldn’t expect a repeat, or even close. I’m going to say this Hornets team defends pretty well but struggles to score and battles too many injuries throughout the season to remain ultimately competitive.
Big Sports Fan prediction: 38-44, 9th in the Eastern Conference.