Could a Small-Ball Lineup Work in Charlotte?

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With the season fast approaching, most fans have no clue how the Charlotte Hornets line-up is going to look or how the rotation will be during games. With all of the new acquisitions during this off-season the team has many new decisions to make on the way each player will be utilized in the rotation.

Most people believe that the starting line-up for the team is mostly set. The census seems to be the Kemba Walker will start as the team’s point guard, Nicolas Batum at shooting guard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at the small forward spot, either Cody Zeller or Frank Kaminsky at power forward, and of course Big Al Jefferson as the teams starting center.

The rotation for each player, starter or bench, is not set in stone. It is unclear how much playing time each player will get and at what position it will be at. The Charlotte Hornets have many players that could play multiple positions on the court next season. A lot of the players will be interchangeable and it will be interesting to see how head coach, Steve Clifford, will utilize each one of them.

One line-up that could be interesting for the team to use would be a small-ball line-up. Many teams in the NBA have used small-ball to their advantage and it has worked many times. Even last season the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship by moving their big man, Andrew Bogut, to the bench in favor of Andre Igoudala for a small ball look.

Could this be an advantage that the Charlotte Hornets could use in their favor for next season?

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If the team were to try out a smaller line-up, who would the players that they use be? In all likelihood the team would still use Kemba Walker at the point guard position, they would probably use Jeremy Lin at shooting guard, Batum at small forward, MKG at power forward, and either Al Jefferson or Frank Kaminsky at center.

Steve Clifford said over the summer that he would like to see a line-up where Kaminsky plays center and MKG is used at the power forward position for Charlotte.

But let’s take a closer look at each player and if this small ball line-up would work.

The first argument against this would be that Charlotte does not have an elite interior defender . But if the team has good enough perimeter defenders then they may be able to disguise a below-average rim defender in Kaminsky or Jefferson, because neither of them are known for being even average paint protectors.

But Nicolas Batum and MKG have a reputation of being great perimeter defender in this league. They are on an elite level of perimeter defenders. MKG could be top-5 in the league and Batum top-10. If Walker and Lin could hold their own on the perimeter as well then this line-up could work. Walker and Lin aren’t known as great defender but I believe that they are good enough to make this small ball line-up work for the team.

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It would cause many problems for their opponents on the floor. This would give Charlotte added offensive fire power on the court. MKG, Kaminsky, and Jefferson aren’t known as elite rebounders but they can get the job done, especially if the team rebounds together. If the whole team attacks the glass then this won’t be a problem.

This small ball line-up has the potential to greatly work in the Charlotte Hornets favor and cause many problems for their opponents. Only time will tell if Clifford will use this line-up but he has been quoted as saying that “It’s always good to have two pick-and-roll players on the floor. That way you can put pressure on the defense at one side, then switch it to the other.”

This means this Clifford favors the two points guard system and will likely use it a lot through the season. This also means that he is more likely to go with a small ball unit out on the court.

The two point guards could work at an NBA level, just look at how Phoenix used Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.

Charlotte has a huge opportunity in front of them this season with a lot of players that could be interchangeable into many positions and can play at a higher level on both sides of the ball than the players from last year.