Charlotte Hornets: Keys to 45 wins in the 2017-18 season

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Steve Clifford, Kemba Walker
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Steve Clifford, Kemba Walker /

With some new additions to the team, the Charlotte Hornets are ready to make some noise in the NBA and up their win total from last season.

The Charlotte Hornets‘ goal for the 2017-18 season should be 45 wins. That should be enough to get them back into the playoffs and secure them a respectable seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve only reached that mark six times in their history with the last coming in 2015-16 (48 wins) which was also the only time since the team returned to the Queen City in 2004.


The Charlotte Hornets are a team with limited offensive weapons. Other than Kemba who else is consistently a threat? Jeremy Lamb is capable but consistency has always been an issue with him. Malik Monk has all the tools to be a lethal scorer but no experience. Can Frank Kaminsky take the next step in his third year?

For a team with a lot of ifs and buts surrounding its offensive first players, they have to focus on defense first. They have the personnel to do it with guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Dwight Howard, Marvin Williams, and a defensive-minded head coach. They were a top-5 defense last season through the first 23 games going 14-9.

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Unfortunately, we have already seen Nic Batum go down with an injury that will keep him out for the first 2-3 months of the season. The Hornets have struggled with key players missing large chunks of the season each of the last three seasons.

In 2016-17, Zeller and Lamb missed 20 games each. In 2015-16, MKG missed nearly the entire season and Lamb missed 16 games. In 2014-15, MKG missed 27 games, while Zeller and Walker missed 20 games apiece. The extended regular season should help, but with Nicolas Batum missing the first 30-40 games Charlotte can’t afford any more injuries.

Bench/Young Guns

This is exemplified even more by the absence of Batum for the first half of the season. The rookies Monk and Bacon are going to have to step up. With Lamb likely moving to the starting lineup the rooks are going to have to produce for this team to be successful.

Last season the bench offensively was not bad but their defense was horrible. With Zeller headed to the bench, they should see a significant improvement on both sides of the ball.

Kaminsky with his first full NBA offseason (following complications with an air pocket in his lung after his rookie year) needs to up his field goal percentage closer to 45% and his three-point percentage closer to 35%.

The backup point guard is still a bit of a question mark going into the season. Julyan Stone was the backup point guard during the preseason. MCW is coming off the worst year of his career and received platelet-rich plasma (PRP) procedures on both knees this offseason. It’s likely Monk will play some at the point, but there are still quality point guards available to sign like Deron Williams, Ty Lawson, and Brandon Jennings.

Dwight Howard

The Atlanta Hawks wanted Howard gone so bad they traded him for Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli. The major issue with Dwight over the past few seasons can be summed up in one word “effort”. Mark Titus of wrote an article last April showcasing Howard’s effort or lack thereof. Coach Clifford and Dwight have a lot of mutual respect for each other and if anyone can get the maximum effort from Howard it’s Steve Clifford.

He is going into this season with low expectations from most of the basketball world. With the spotlight not so bright on Howard he should be able to return to just having fun playing basketball with much less pressure.

Next: Hornets waive four players

Lastly, Charlotte is going to need a little good luck.