Are the Hornets the Bobcats In Disguise? A Comparison through 18 Games


Just changing a name won’t make a team better.

We all heard it.  We heard it in the early days of the Bring Back the Buzz campaign.  We heard it when Michael Jordan announced that Charlotte would make a bid for the Hornets name to return.  We heard it after the team revealed the “brand identity.”  We heard it before Opening Night.

But this team wasn’t supposed to be the same old mediocre Charlotte basketball we had grown used to.

The 2014-15 Charlotte Hornets entered this season with possibly the biggest upside in the NBA.  The Hornets possessed young talent, established veteran stars, and a deep bench that could carry them late in games.  On Opening Night, in front of a packed Time Warner Cable Arena, Kemba Walker gave the Hornets a fitting return to Charlotte, sinking two incredibly clutch shots to complete the biggest comeback in Charlotte history, on a night that was all about the biggest comeback in Charlotte history.

The Hornets have won exactly three games since then.

A lot of reasons can be named for why the Hornets have struggled so much at the start of the season.  Injuries have plagued the lineup, keeping the new-and-improved Michael Kidd-Gilchrist off the court, and forcing head coach Steve Clifford to use his reserves more than initially planned this early in the season.  The offense has absolutely sputtered, posting an offensive efficiency of under 100, good for third-worst in the league.  The defense hasn’t done too much to make up for the offense, operating at an efficiency of 106.0, 25th in the NBA.  The body language says that the team has lost the confidence it carried after an exciting overtime win to open the season.

Just changing a name won’t make a team better.  And, looking back at how each Bobcats team started its season, changing the name has had zero effect on the Hornets.

Like this year’s Hornets team, the inaugural Bobcats team opened its season 4-14.  They finished at a dismal 18-64, which doesn’t bode well for the Hornets this year, until you look at the difference between the two rosters.  The 2004-05 Bobcats started Brevin Knight, Keith Bogans, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor, and Primoz Brezec.  The bench featured names such as Kareem Rush, Matt Carroll, Cory Alexander, and Jason Kapono.  The Hornets of today are much more likely to turn things around than the initial Bobcats roster.

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  • Throughout the history of the Bobcats franchise, the team never made it to the 18 game mark above .500.  The closest the Bobcats ever came was last season, when they finished 8-10 through 18 games.  An alarming statistic, however, is that only one Bobcats team started the season worse than this Hornets team:  The infamous 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, starting the season at 3-15.  The Bobcats went on to win 4 of their next 44 that season.  These Hornets are tied for the second worst Charlotte start since 2004 with the inaugural team.  Every other Bobcats team made it through 18 games with at least 5 wins, although only two of those teams found their way into the postseason.

    Obviously, it’s still early in the season.  The Hornets are a young team.  Injuries have affected the lineup.  But, that being said, Charlotte absolutely has to start worrying about playoff contention.  A few signs say that they can turn it around; the Hornets played the Western Conference 10 times in November, including Golden State and Portland twice.  The Western Conference will provide Charlotte’s toughest competition of the season, so getting those match-ups out of the way early may actually benefit the Hornets going into the stretch.  The weak Eastern Conference bodes well for Charlotte.  Last year, it took a 38-44 record for Atlanta to sneak into an eight-seed.  This isn’t impossible for Charlotte; finishing 34-30 seems difficult, but the majority of Charlotte’s games are against that depleted Eastern Conference, which Charlotte went 30-22 against last year.  Right now, the Hornets are 3.5 games out of that eight place line, which shows that despite a rough start, Charlotte isn’t the only team in the East struggling to find their footing early.

    The Hornets suffered a horrendous month in November.  Seemingly everything that could have gone wrong, did, and they find themselves in a gaping hole just two days into December.  We all thought the cursed luck of the Bobcats had finally left Charlotte, yet, here we are, a winning percentage under .250 in December.  Still, there are 64 games left in the season.  There’s still time to improve, get healthy, and make a run at the playoffs.

    Just changing a name won’t make a team better.  But, snapping this losing streak would be a start.