Much has been made of the Hornets offseason, which on paper looks to be a great success. But the biggest key to this season’s hopes might be a player who is beginning his third year with the team.
The Hornets made some big acquisitions this summer, essentially trading Chris Douglas-Roberts, Josh McRoberts, and Luke Ridnour for Brian Roberts, Lance Stephenson, and Marvin Williams. No matter how popular CDR and McBob were with fans last season, the new players are certainly an upgrade overall. The Hornets also drafted Noah Vonleh, a player that many had as the 4th best prospect, with the 9th pick. Charlotte also acquired PJ Hairston who, for all of his off the court issues, fulfills a major need with his shooting. These moves with help the team tremendously. Lost in all of these new player acquisitions is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a player drafted with the second pick in the draft two years ago.
MKG’s weakness is well documented: he is not a
great good shooter. While he has always shown tenacity to finish around the rim, when he moves back a few feet he struggles. His free throw percentage last year was .614, which gives him the 74th ranked free throw percentage among ESPN.com listed small forwards. While a great defender, his liability on the offensive end meant he was often times subbed out in favor of CDR last year at the end of games. While CDR is now gone, minutes figure to be even more competitive this year. Jeff Taylor is back and will get some minutes there, Marvin Williams was signed and can play the 3(he would be a bigger 3 which Clifford has advocated for) and Lance Stephenson could play there as well as bump Henderson over to that spot.
While he has struggled to shoot in a league that increasing values that skill, all is not lost. He will only be 21 by the end of this coming season. He is a hard worker and has a great shooter helping him in Mark Price. He was electric in Game 3 of the playoff series versus the Heat. He is a great rebounder. He still has a high ceiling on a team that could use his talent. Here’s hoping that with some pressure off he will be able to develop and get the Hornets to the next level.