Charlotte Hornets are a mystery


The Charlotte Hornets are a mystery.

They currently sit at 22-30, clinging to one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. At first glance, you would assume this is just another run of the mill bad team in an inferior conference.

However, when you look through the Hornets’ season, you see wins against the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors. You see the Hornets going 2-0 against the Washington Wizards. There was the road win against the Phoenix Suns. You would see three games where Charlotte won by 20 plus points.

But, there are also the losses to the Knicks, Lakers, Magic, and 76ers. Charlotte has gone 1-2 against the putrid Indiana Pacers. This team has been blown out by 20 or more points eight times. Plus another loss by 19. When the team has been bad, they have been very bad.

Still, Charlotte has gone 8-7 against the other seven Eastern Conference playoff times, as of right now. Against non-playoff teams, the Hornets have mostly taken care of business, with a 13-7 record. Within their own conference, Charlotte is a respectable 16-15, which is somewhat remarkable when you take into account all the injuries this team has suffered.

Where the Hornets have struggled the most is against the best teams in the Western Conference. When playing the current ten best West teams(Golden State, Memphis, Portland, Houston, Dallas, Clippers, San Antonio, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, New Orleans), Charlotte is a disastrous 2-14.

Most teams in the league are going to struggle against the best competition. It is no knock on the Hornets’ for having such a bad record against teams that have their sights set on the NBA Finals.

No, the blowout losses, especially the ones against bad teams, are the most worrying. The 28 point loss to the Pistons right before the All-Star break. The 39 point drubbing at Cleveland. The 27 point disintegration at home against the Brooklyn Nets. Those games were all non-competitive. Too many bad losses speaks poorly about the competitive fire of the team. For a franchise owned by the most competitive man to ever play in the NBA, its inconceivable to not give a good effort every night.

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The Good News

The good thing is that only four of the last 30 games will be played against Western Conference playoff hopefuls, with two of those four being played this weekend in a tough back-to-back. Over half of the remaining schedule(16 games) comes against teams currently with a losing record.

The Hornets’ also have reloaded, acquiring veteran point guard Mo Williams along with promising wing player Troy Daniels. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will have had close to two weeks to rest his strained hamstring. Bismack Biyombo will have been out close to a month when games resume on Saturday, and should be close to returning from his knee bruise.

All of the Hornets’ player, other than Cody Zeller, have had plenty of time to rest and reflect on the season so far. Williams and Daniels will have had time to practice and get to know their teammates.

With close to a full contingent of healthy players, and the schedule easing up down the stretch, there should be plenty of hope in that locker room. Even the return of Kemba Walker might not be that far away. The initially quoted six week timeframe would put his return somewhere near the March 13th home game against the Chicago Bulls.

Imagine the stretch run with a healthy Kemba Walker and Mo Williams. Suddenly the back-court of the Hornets looks rather formidable. Guys that were absolutely killing the Hornets with their poor production will either be gone(Gary Neal) or glued to the bench(Lance Stephenson).

And that is assuming that no other moves have been made. Lance Stephenson is still being shopped, and the Hornets and Nets have been passing notes under the table for most of the season. As the trade deadline approaches, who knows if the Nets, or another team, will panic and finally give in to the Hornets demands.

Joe Johnson, Arron Afflalo and others have a realistic shot at landing in Charlotte before another game is even played.

So take heart, Hornets’ fans. The games leading up to the break may have been painful, but the playoffs are coming back to Charlotte, and given how well the Hornets have played against the Eastern Conference, that elusive playoff win is on the horizon.

Next: Lance Stephenson May Be Stuck Here

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