Biggest Early-Season Hurdle for Every NBA Team to Clear - Making a list of the Charlotte Hornets' most lethal shooters is an awkward exercise. They have Marvin Williams, Brian Roberts, Gary Neal. There's...well, they have...Oh.
Three-point shooting isn't going to be the Hornets' strength, which is a problem. They have to shoot them. That's how offenses function nowadays—the good ones, anyway. Charlotte ranked 23rd in distance shooting last year, and its offense ranked 24th overall.
Although the offense improves with the additions of Lance Stephenson and Noah Vonleh, neither is a terrifying long-range threat. And while Kemba Walker (33.3 percent) and Gerald Henderson (34.8) are going to bomb away, they're not efficient gunners.
In fact, only one player on the Hornets roster was both in the NBA last year and converted more than 36 percent of his threes.
Here's to Jannero Pargo single-handedly turning the Hornets into three-point pioneers. Or, more realistically, here's to some serious three-point growth from within.
Late comeback falls short as Hornets lose to Pacers - In the final preseason game of the year, the Hornets started flat and couldn't muster enough of a comeback to take down the Pacers.
With Lance Stephenson, Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, and Noah Vonleh all missing this game for the Hornets, the goal for coach Steve Clifford may have been getting through the game healthy. Well if that was the goal, then count the game as a success as there were no apparent injuries. However, if the goal was to win the game, then the Hornets failed, losing to the Indiana Pacers 88-79.
In their final preseason exhibition, the Hornets started decently, but it all seemed to fall apart once the first few substitutions came into the game. Down 16-14 midway through the first quarter, the Hornets then gave up a 25-5 run. The Pacers size was giving the Hornets legitimate issues on the wing, with P.J. Hairston having to guard the likes of Chris Copeland (list at 6'9") and Janerro Pargo having to guard C.J. Miles (listed at 6'6").
Despite a bad first half, the Hornets rallied in the third to cut it down to 14 before the final frame. Then Gary Neal got ejected for complaining to the referee. He didn't appear to do much to warrant the technical or the ejection, but considering he had shot 1-11 from the field at that point, maybe it was a blessing Neal got the boot. Clifford then went with Justin Cobbs, Pargo, Hairston, Cody Zeller, and Jason Maxiell and surprisingly they went on an incredible run. Pargo made a Kemba-like crossover and Hairston hit a trailing 3-pointer to bring it to within 2 with 5:33 left to play.
Clifford then brought in Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brian Roberts, and Marvin Williams to play with Hairston to try to complete the comeback. Unfortunately, the Hornets were already over the foul limit and struggled to stay out of the referee's cross hairs for the remainder of the game and ultimately fell short.
What stood out? Kidd-Gilchrist (13 points and 7 rebounds) had a great game, playing aggressive and making smart plays. He added a nice pull-up, contested jump shot and a few drives right into Roy Hibbert. Brian Roberts (19 points on 7-14 shooting) shot the ball well, lead the team in scoring, and for the most part controlled the game while protecting the ball. Other than those two guys and the second half defense, coach Clifford likely doesn't have much positive to say about this game. Oh and Hairston was taking 3-point shots from out of bounds during halftime.
Stat of the night: Al Jefferson had six blocks. For those unfamiliar with Jefferson's game, that is a lot of blocks for him. He had a good game defensively, which is always nice to see from a guy who does the majority of his work on the offensive end.
Next up: Thankfully this is the last preseason game for the Hornets and the next one will count for real. Charlotte opens up against the Milwaukee Bucks, Wednesday October 29th. Be there or miss out on the complimentary tuxedo t-shirt.
At The Hive
Chances of Each NBA Team Making the Playoffs Heading into 2014-15 Regular Season - Joining Rip City are the Charlotte Hornets. The two key players on this squad are quite obviously Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, though the addition of Lance Stephenson should greatly improve the team's offensive capabilities. So, what happens if either of the standouts goes down for an extended period of time? Should the former Bobcats lose Walker, they're going to end up replacing him with some combination of Brian Roberts and Jannero Pargo. Worse still, should Jefferson pull up lame and find himself in street clothes for an extended time, it'll be Bismack Biyombo coming to the rescue. Well, trying to come to the rescue. He won't actually be able to keep the team afloat until he develops quite a bit more. That's the danger for the Hornets, even if they look like something resembling a playoff lock now that they're in Year 2 of the Steve Clifford era and boast even more offensive pieces to complement their adept defensive leanings. They're this close to having the coveted guarantee, but the lack of depth behind the key pieces poses just a bit too much trouble.
RT @jakewhitacre: John Lucas III
Juan Dixon - None
Hornets now within one after Jannero Pargo knocks down a three. - None
NBA Depth Chart Projections for All 30 Teams Going into 2014-15 Season - PG: Kemba Walker, Brian Roberts, Gary Neal, Jannero Pargo, Justin Cobbs
SG: Lance Stephenson, P.J. Hairston
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Jeff Taylor*
PF: Marvin Williams, Jason Maxiell, Noah Vonleh
C: Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, Brian Qvale
Key Additions: P.J. Hairston, Brian Roberts, Lance Stephenson, Noah Vonleh, Marvin Williams
Stephenson and Williams have been slotted as starters in Charlotte from the get-go. Stephenson, though, recently joined Vonleh, Walker and Henderson on the training table with a groin strain, per The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell. Those injuries have afforded more opportunities for Hairston and Roberts to peddle their respective wares. Roberts chipped in 10 points (and no assists) as a starter against the Detroit Pistons, while Hairston has come out firing from three-point range (7-of-16). Those two could turn out to be valuable contributors off the Hornets' surprisingly versatile bench.
Position to Watch: Small forward
Kidd-Gilchrist might've had some competition on the wing if not for Henderson's hamstring strain. Even so, MKG has some work to do before he can comfortably settle in as Charlotte's starter at small forward. He averaged right around nine points and seven rebounds through his first four games—solid production, to be sure, but still far from what the Hornets would otherwise want out of the former No. 2 overall pick.
Then again, if Kidd-Gilchrist can continue to be a lockdown defender on the perimeter and flash his improved jumper from time to time, he just might cement his status as a solid-enough contributor to the Hornets' cause to fend off Henderson under most any circumstances.