How the Charlotte Hornets should handle the rest of the season

Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

With their playoff hopes dwindling, how should the Charlotte Hornets approach the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign?

The Charlotte Hornets have had four different winning streaks of three games or more, and after every single one of them, they have followed with a losing streak of four games or more. The losses have begun to pile up and it’s time to wave the white flag on the season.

Charlotte is sitting at 28-37. To even have a chance at making the playoffs, the Hornets would need to win at least 15 of their last 19. No matter how easy their schedule might be, this is extremely unlikely.

Does this mean the Hornets should begin trying to lose games? No, but they need to find different ways to try to win them. Why should they not “tank”? Well, at this point in the season their draft placement is already practically decided. As of right now, they have the 10th worst record in the league. Realistically the lowest they could get is 9th (those bottom 8 teams are on a historic tanking pace), and the highest they could get is 12th.  

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The difference between 9-12 is not that significant. Some would say purposely losing can potentially damage any type of culture a team may have, so for at least this season don’t do that. Instead, just simply start incorporating young guys into the game more.

Scale back some veterans minutes gradually. Guys like Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams would (hopefully) understand the thought process behind it. It seems likely MCW may already be out for the remainder of the season, so Monk will already be getting those minutes.  

As for Batum, he’s playing a little over 30 minutes per game. Why not cut that mark down by 5-8 minutes to make more room for someone like Dwayne Bacon? Batum is not a bad player by any means, it’s his contract situation that makes him look bad, but how much harm would it cause? If anything, it’ll help a young rookie get used to playing meaningful minutes. You could even take it a step further and place Jeremy Lamb in the starting spot over Batum. I know that’s a popular argument amongst fans, and it could be interesting to see Lamb’s effectiveness playing starter minutes.

When I say to incorporate the young guys more, I don’t even just mean our two rookies. Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Willy Hernangomez are all relatively young as well. Say want you will about any of those guys, but it’s never a bad thing to develop young players. Each of the guys starting in the frontcourt are veterans and have logged plenty of minutes. Dwight has had a good year, but even the other night against Toronto we saw Cody get minutes down the stretch.

When it comes to Marvin, Eric Collins says it best, “He’s a pro’s pro”.  He understands the business and the state of the team. If it meant helping a young guy like Frank get some extra minutes, Marvin would be for it. I’m not claiming Frank is this team’s savior, but it could help to play him a little more. Last year when he stood in for Cody in the starting lineup, he was pretty effective.

Along with those two guys is Willy. He hasn’t been very good so far, but the team needs to find a few meaningful minutes for him. The Hornets traded for him, might as well try to get a little use out of him. Playing just garbage time minutes will do him no good, but even just 3-5 minutes of actual game time can.

Some of you may be down on any of these guys. That’s understandable, but you still never know what they can actually be until you try. Last season Treveon Graham didn’t get very many minutes, this season he’s been a great rotational player.

What I’m describing probably sounds a lot like tanking, and it kind of is, but not completely. Tanking is more so when you put players in a situation to set them up to lose, but for the Hornets, it wouldn’t hurt to win.  

Take this comparison I’m about to make with a grain of salt, I’m just making a general correlation between the two. The Los Angeles Lakers have a ton of young guys for the future and know they aren’t going to make the playoffs. However, they’re still trying to win, because winning is great for young guys confidence. The Hornets clearly do not have all the young talent the Lakers do but could look at their approach to the rest of the season similarly.

Hope for the Hornets isn’t for this season, but for the future. Get the young guys prepared to one day be key starters/role players. If they win some now, great, but it’ll even better in the coming years mixed with another lottery pick this summer.  

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To describe it as tanking wouldn’t be completely true. It would also be disrespectful to a guy like Kemba who plays his heart out every night. Also though, to not implement young guys into the rotation more would just be ridiculous. Absolutely nothing would be accomplished by not doing so. We aren’t going to make the playoffs and we aren’t even trying to develop young guys into a bigger role. That would be a lose-lose situation. Fans might not have playoff basketball to look forward to. At least give us promising young guys to look forward to, it’s for the best.