Five Things We Learned About The Charlotte Hornets

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Oct 13, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson (1) stands on the court against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Time Warner Cable Arena. Hornets defeated the Magic 99-97. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

We can start with the obvious. Lance Stephenson was brought in during the summer of 2014 as a bargain free agent signing after his contract negotiations with the Indiana Pacers went south. Given the Hornets resurgence into the Eastern Conference playoffs the previous season, the Stephenson signing was another positive step in the eyes of most of the organization.

Stephenson declined a five year, $44M contract offer from the Pacers, thinking he could get a better deal on the open market. However, that original offer turned out to actually be far above Stephenson’s market value. As the summer wore on, and teams filled out their rosters, Hornets general manager Rich Cho saw a chance to bag what was seen as a high-risk, high-reward player on a very team friendly deal.

So Stephenson signed for three years and $27M, with only the first two  years guaranteed. Everyone lauded the move, knowing that even if things did not work out, the organization would only be on the hook for two years.

Well, things did not work out. Stephenson has been a disaster on the court.

2010-11 IND .333 .000 5.6 6.6 1.3 5.0 11.6
2011-12 IND .376 .133 4.3 3.7 1.7 2.9 8.6
2012-13 IND .460 .330 4.8 3.5 1.3 1.7 10.9
2013-14 IND .491 .352 7.3 4.7 0.7 2.7 14.1
2014-15 CHO .376 .171 6.3 5.5 0.9 2.9 11.5
Career .444 .297 6.1 4.5 1.0 2.5 12.1

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/9/2015.

As you can see, after last year’s breakout campaign, where Stephenson shot 49% from the field and 35% from behind the three point line, his numbers nosedived this year into the unthinkable. He has made only 37.6% of his field goals, and a disastrous 17.1% of his threes.

Those numbers go along with everything else you expect from Stephenson, including high turnovers and inconsistent defense. Still, there is a chance that Stephenson actually is a good player, and that the Hornets grind-it-out offensive mentality is the worst possible fit for his game, as I wrote about earlier this year.

Stephenson after all, loves the transition game, scoring easy buckets on the fast break. Head coach Steve Clifford hates fast break basketball, and so Stephenson is forced to play strictly in the half-court. There is also far too little shooting and spacing on the court, forcing a guy like Stephenson to either jack up irresponsible mid-range bricks, which he does often, or dribble into a crowd in a desperate attempt to make a play, of which he is also guilty.

Either way, whether Stephenson is a bad fit or just a bad player, the pairing of the Hornets and Stephenson has not worked.

Next: 2. Al Jefferson Is Still A Great Player