NBA Previews: Charlotte Hornets
For my second division in the NBA, I will be jumping conferences and discussing the Southeast Division. One of the teams that believes not only they can make the playoffs, but possibly earn a top four seed, is the Charlotte Hornets. I agree with the first statement, but are they really capable of passing two of the proposed "top five" in the East with this roster?
Charlotte got the steal of the draft when they selected G Malik Monk from Kentucky with the 11th overall selection, and many drew a poor-man's Russ Westbrook comparison with Monk. I think that if anybody who knows what they are talking about compares you to Westbrook, you should be a top ten selection. Luckily for Charlotte, Sacramento passed on him twice, along with eight other teams, and they took him as their main backup guard. They also selected swingman Dwayne Bacon from Florida State, and he was a big reason why their program became relevant again last season.
Let's talk about the Dwight Howard trade first. All the Hawks wanted was Miles Plumlee and an old Marco Belinelli, so that says either one of two things. One, the Hawks are desperate to get rid of Howard's salary and start a rebuild. Two, Howard's value is now terrible, as Miles Plumlee arguably has the worst contract in basketball. I'm leaning more towards the latter, and it will be up to Howard to prove us wrong. For those of you saying the former, Plumlee doesn't have a good contract, and he has less value than Howard in 99.99% of opinions out there. The Hornets also brought in backup PG Michael Carter-Williams from Chicago, as he looks to re-establish his Rookie of the Year self.
Plumlee is one of them, but not too many people in Charlotte are crying over that. A trio of backup point guards has left as well, Ramon Sessions to New York, Briante Weber to LA and Brian Roberts I believe went overseas. F/C Christian Wood is a free agent still, but his acquisition isn't noteworthy at this point.
C-Dwight Howard, Frank Kaminsky
PF-Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Johnny O'Bryant
SF-Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon
SG-Nicolas Batum, Malik Monk, Treveon Graham
PG-Kemba Walker, Michael Carter-Williams, Marcus Paige
I was really tempted on putting Frank Kaminsky as the starter instead of Howard, but I believe that the Hornets have to be on to something here with Howard. He is a better defender than the centers they have had, and he has the star caliber Al Jefferson had when he was here. Outside of that, this team is solid, but it still needs to find more scoring help for Kemba Walker. I wouldn't be surprised if Malik Monk eventually started and bumped Batum and Kidd-Gilchrist up to playing both forward spots in a small-ball lineup.
Charlotte is a playoff team by default, as they were one of the teams that didn't completely blow up their roster in the East. They aren't better than Washington yet, because Washington really hasn't lost anything. All Charlotte did was add Howard and Monk to a 36 win team. Do you really think those additions are worth 14 wins? Maybe if Howard was five years younger and Monk was five years older, but this team still isn't a postseason contender. They will have a better record than they actually are.