Charlotte Hornets: Top Power Forwards


This past week, Ian Begley of ESPN reported that former Charlotte Hornet Anthony Mason was admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack and remains hospitalized.  While it has been a rough week for Mase and his family, it appears that he has improved a bit.

This troubling news about one of my favorite Hornets (who was ironically also one of my least favorite Knick) motivated me to take a walk down memory lane and think about Mason in comparison to some of the other power forwards we’ve seen don the purple and teal over the years.

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I put together a list of my top 5 power forwards in Charlotte Hornets (and Bobcats) history.  To qualify, a player must have spent at least half of his time as a Hornet (or Bobcat) playing the power forward position.  This immediately eliminated a couple of guys that may have otherwise been considered: P.J. Brown and Emeka Okafor.

Without further adieu, here’s my list:

5. Armen Gilliam

while he wasn’t in Charlotte long, Gilliam put up some big time numbers and was our first legit power forward.  In the ’89-’90 season, he averaged nearly 19 points and 9 rebounds a game.  The Hornets would gladly take that production from the power forward slot today.

4. Derrick Coleman

I hesitate to even put him on this list, but he was as talented as any power forward we’ve had and he did produce in the 3 years he was here.  Had DC truly applied himself and saw his true potential, he may have been #1 on this list.  In his best year as a Hornet, he averaged 16.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and nearly 2 blocks per game.

3. Elden Campbell

Elden split time at center and power forward, but was listed as a power forward for 2 of his 4 seasons here so he meets my criteria.  He was solid, never flashy, and a consummate role player on some pretty talented Hornets teams.  As a Hornet, he averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

2. Anthony Mason

I couldn’t believe that Mase only spent 3 seasons in Charlotte because he made an enormous impact on the team.  He played arguably his best basketball of his career in the Queen City.  Fans always looked forward to seeing what Mase would have carved into the side of his head.  He played as hard and as physical as any player I’ve seen.  He averaged a double double as a Hornet, dropping in 13.4 points and grabbing 10 rebounds per game.

1. Larry Johnson

No one made a bigger impact in Charlotte as a member of the Hornets as LJ.  He was the Hornets’ first true superstar.  His work ethic and exciting play at a position where he was severely undersized according to NBA norms made him stand out.  He had the shoes, the commercials, the jersey sales (I still have the LJ #2 purple jersey), and that gold tooth grin that was nationally recognizable.  Had he not succumbed to back problems (and that trade to the Knicks that brought us Mason), who knows what he could have been.  In 5 seasons as a Hornet, he averaged over 19 points and 9 rebounds per game.

Amazingly, it’s been over 15 years since any of the guys played for the Hornets (or Bobcats).  This reveals a glaring weakness of the Hornets for a long time.  It’s also interesting to note that none of them spent more than 5 years as Hornets.  The game has changed a lot in 15 years and the modern power forward is very different from what it was back in the day, but hopefully guys like Noah Vonleh and Cody Zeller will be list-worthy in a few years.

Next: Lance Stepenson may be stuck with the Hornets

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