The roller coaster that is the Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Nicolas Batum. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

There is only one thing consistent about this Charlotte Hornets’ team, and that’s inconsistency, and there are many factors that play into this.

Everybody knows what a roller coaster is, it’s full of highs and lows. Throughout the course of a long season, every team faces both, but for the Charlotte Hornets, their roller coaster involves extremes of each, especially the lows.

It’s not just specific to this team, but the franchise as a whole, players, and individual games as well. The original Hornets went from leading the league in attendance to being shunned by its fans when George Shinn relocated the team. In 2010 the Bobcats made the playoffs, two seasons later they finished with the worst record EVER.  Prior to this season the Hornets/Bobcats have on and off made the playoffs for the past four seasons. The Hornets are consistently inconsistent, it’s in their DNA.

This season has been no different. THREE times the Hornets have had three-game winning streaks that were followed by losing streaks of AT LEAST three games. I’m legitimately not sure how a team manages to do that.

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We’ve seen this roller coaster in effect over the course of plenty of the Hornets games lately. Against Denver, the team went from being down 14 in the second quarter to take the lead, to losing by 17. Against Portland Thursday Night they started the game down 20-5. After climbing back, Portland raced ahead to take a 14 point lead into the 4th quarter. Once again, the Hornets brought it back to force OT but then fell in the end.  

There never seems to be any middle ground with the team. It’s either a 10-point lead or a 10-point deficit.  It’s either a 35-point quarter or a 15-point quarter. This is, of course, an exaggeration, but anybody that follows this team knows it’s not much of one.

The Hornets bench is admittedly well below average. However, every once in a while it’s not.  While the final numbers were skewed some given garbage time towards the end, in the first half in Utah on Friday Night all five bench players had a positive +/-, while all five starters had a negative one. This doesn’t mean we should expect the Hornets bench to always go on runs, but it shows we should expect some more consistency.

Practically every player on the Hornets has been up and down the coaster this season. Frank Kaminsky is averaging nearly 11 PPG this season, not bad for a bench player, but 71.1% (37/52) of his games this season have NOT come within three points of his average per game. Sure, in the end, it averages out to a decent amount, but consistency is key. Based on a handful of other players with similar PPG and MPG as Frank, the average seems to be around 50 or 55%. This may even seem like nitpicking, but his game logs consistently display two or three games in a row with minimal production, then a couple games in a row with great production.

It may seem as if I’m going to continue to ramble on listing off inconsistent things about the team, but that’s the point. There are so many extreme factors of inconsistency for this team.

Dwight Howard recently had a fantastic twelve game double-double stretch. Shortly after that, aka the past two games, he’s scored just twelve points total. He’s shot 27.7% in those two games and looked checked out defensively over the past week. He’s a vet so wear and tear could be a reason, but it’s not his only stretch like this season.

Before I address may be the most inconsistent player on this team, I want to reiterate a point. I acknowledge that all teams have highs and lows, as well as players. I’m not even trying to call a player out for having down games here and there. This team just seems to have the extreme downs. It’s impossible to prevent fluctuations in production game-to-game, but you should be able to prevent severe inconsistency.

Now about Nic Batum, inconsistency as a whole may not even be the right word. His production is just down, way too low for a max contract guy. Yes, he had his injury,  but he’s also had plenty of time since to come into his own. I actually thought he was, too. About two weeks ago he had a span of games where he had a 22-point game, a triple-double, a 31 and 9 game, then a 22, 5, and 4 game. Great production. In the few games since, he’s averaging 13 PPG, not awful, but he’s just not grabbing boards or passing the way you’d expect a guy who’s “not just a scorer” to do.  

My point is not to say Batum should average a triple-double. It’s that we know he can be a great player, but don’t see it enough.

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Same can be said for the most of the team. There’s a reason most picked Charlotte to make the playoffs this season, they have a fairly talented roster. Inconsistency, however, will be and has been the death of this team.