Charlotte Hornets Season in Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 23: Cody Zeller #40 of the Charlotte Hornets with his teammates huddle before the game against the Washington Wizards on February 23, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 23: Cody Zeller #40 of the Charlotte Hornets with his teammates huddle before the game against the Washington Wizards on February 23, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Even in a disappointing season, there were some good moments for the Charlotte Hornets. Followed by many bad and ugly moments.

The Charlotte Hornets wrapped up their 2017-2018 season finishing 36-46. Coming into the season many fans were expecting a minimum of a playoff berth. That obviously did not happen, so let’s look at the season in review. There was some good, plenty of bad, and a lot of ugly.

The Good:

–  Kemba Walker:  For the second consecutive season Kemba Walker made the NBA All-Star team. It may have taken three or four times this time around, but it happened nonetheless. Kemba averaged 22.1 PPG, slightly less than last year because he just didn’t shoot quite as efficiently. Next year, hopefully in a Charlotte uniform, Kemba will look to make his third straight All-Star appearance in the City of Charlotte.

Kemba Walker (Again!): This time Kemba is on this list because he became the franchises all-time leading scorer, passing Dell Curry on March 28th against the Cleveland Cavaliers. As of right now, Kemba is sitting at 9907 total points.

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Dwight’s 30 and 30 Game: There are certainly mixed feelings amongst the fan base about Dwight this season, but his 30 and 30 game is something we all can be impressed by. The feat hadn’t been done in 8 years since Kevin Love did so and Dwight just completely dominated the second half of that game against the Nets. For me personally, it brought back memories of prime Dwight and makes you think just how often he could have done that had he always applied himself.

Treveon Graham Hustle Plays: I don’t have any stat to measure this really, but Hornets fans know what I’m talking about. The Hornets second-year man broke into the rotation regularly this season and made the most of it. His three-point shooting was great, but the best part of his game is his hustle. Whether it be on defense or diving for loose balls, he goes 100% 100% of the time. Let’s hope the Hornets are able to re-sign him in the offseason.

Marvin Williams Bench Support: Even when things were going tough this season, so most of the time, Marvin Williams was always fully supportive from the bench. It didn’t matter if the team was up or down 20, Marvin was always jumping around. Given that he’s an aging vet, I like to think of Marvin as the team father. (He might actually be Bacon’s father).

Hornets Llama Rap: This is fairly new, but still a great moment from the season. Bleacher Report posted a video of Kemba and the Hornets rapping to some Llama kids story. Marvin definitely was the best overall and JLamb sounded the most like 21 Savage. Frank wasn’t as bad as I expected, and Dwight mostly made a lot of weird noises. If you haven’t checked it out, please do so ASAP.

December 29th: If you don’t already remember, it was the night the Hornets won at Oracle 111-100. On the night Dwight Howard had a near triple-double performance with 29 points, 13 boards, and seven (!!!) assists. Although Curry didn’t play, this was still by far the Hornets most impressive win on the season.

End of the Season Malik Monk: Monk had his rookie struggles to start the year. During the middle, he was in the dog house. At the end of the season, he was great. His last six games of the season specifically were phenomenal. Over that stretch, he averaged 19.8 PPG and 3.8 APG while shooting 40% from three. Not only could he shoot the three, he had quite a few impressive dunks over that stretch as well.

The 61 Point Victory Against Memphis: Yeah yeah, I know, the Grizzlies were tanking. Nobody is denying that, but that takes nothing away from that win. If it were easy to win by 60+ against a tanking team it would happen much more often. In just 28 minutes that game, Kemba had 46 points on 10/14 from beyond the arc. One of the best single-game performances I’ve witnessed, and I really wish he still would’ve played in the fourth to get a new career high.

Steve Martin’s Career: It only feels right to include this bit about Steve Martin. He truly is a Hornets legend, and will forever be remembered so. It’s a shame he didn’t get to call more playoffs game this season, but his call on the Alonzo Mourning series-winning buzzer beater against Boston is forever iconic.

Onto the bad…

The Bad:

The Record: Okay let’s just get this one out of the way. In a season where playoffs were expected at a minimum, 36-46 is very bad. The same exact record as last year, with a better roster.

Rich Cho Fired: Technically, this may actually be a good thing in the long run. It’s counted as bad though because well if a team’s GM is fired, then the team obviously isn’t doing well. The Mitch Kupchak era has officially begun in Charlotte so here’s to hoping the teams GM doesn’t find itself on this list next season.

Field Goal Percentage: After being right around 30th most of the season, the Hornets were able to climb all the way up to 27th as the year has come to a close. If the Hornets could’ve just been average shooting the ball, they’d easily be in the playoffs.  

Nic Batum: Yes he had some injury issues that lingered, but Nic Batum was bad this year. There were many critics last year when he averaged 15, 6, and 6, so imagine how the fans felt this year when his scoring dropped to just 11 PPG. He should be the second, at worst third, best player on this team. At best he was fourth this season, but arguably much lower. Will he be packaged in a trade? Who knows.

Trying to get All-Star Jerseys: When Kemba made the All-Star team last season, I got his “shirsey” (shirt jersey). This season, the black and white jerseys for the teams were (in my opinion) very clean. I know that many fans wanted to buy an actual Kemba All-Star jersey, but they weren’t really anywhere to be found. I know one was given away which was awesome, but other than that I don’t believe there was much. The weird thing about the whole thing though, is that MJ had All-Star jerseys in his name… for this season… in the team shop. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if they’re gonna have that, they should have Kemba as well.

The Hornets Road Record: With a 15-27 record on the road, the team surprisingly improved from last year.  Still, 15-27 is just bad. Since the NBA has returned to Charlotte, no team has ever had a winning record on the road.

Steve Clifford Getting Sick: There is a very diverse opinion of Clifford amongst fans, but it was very tough to see him out for so long. Silas was a comparable interim, but it still has a lingering effect on the team as a whole. I’m glad he’s recovered from what he was going through, and let’s hope nothing like it happens to him again.

Forcing Turnovers: Charlotte ranked 25th in the league in turnovers forced. For a team that doesn’t shoot that well, you need all the easy baskets you can get.  

Stephanie Ready on the Sideline: By this, I do not mean that she was bad at that, she was great. What I mean is that it was bad that she wasn’t in the broadcast booth with Eric and Dell. Yes, I understand the argument that three people may crowd the booth, but most Hornets fans I know loved listening to the three of them last season.

Dwight’s Free Throw Shooting: You know it’s actually a good thing that this only made the “bad” part of the list. Dwight shot 57.4% from the line this season, higher than his career average!!! (by 0.8%). Dwight had some poor performances early in the season like his 0-9 from the line game against Milwaukee, but over the last half of the season, he shot nearly 63% from the line. Still bad in the grand scheme of things, still a bit of a liability, but it could’ve been worse.

Finally, the ugly…

The Ugly:

MCW Shooting Open Layups: I’m 100% certain the phrase “I wouldn’t touch you with a 39 and a half foot pole” refers to how ugly these are to watch. I had the “honor” of witnessing his miss against Portland in person, but that was just one of many. It became such a common occurrence it was almost comical.

Close Games: Well this is no secret. In one-possession games, this season the Hornets were 1-5, but hey that’s better than being winless as they were last year. Let’s be honest here though, that one-possession win doesn’t really count. Mo Speights made a meaningless three at the buzzer to cut the lead down to two, but I won’t complain because the streak is finally over. In order to get better in the future, the Hornets have to stop relying just on isoball at the end of games.

Nic Batum’s Contract: While Batum wasn’t good this season, his contract is worse. The five-year $120 million max deal he was given two summers ago looks worse and worse every day. This contract along with a few others practically has the Hornets stuck for the next couple of offseasons. Sadly, the only way we could maybe unload the contract is by bundling him with Kemba.

Injuries: No this is not an excuse for how the season went, just a statement of fact. Batum got injured in the preseason and was out to start the season. Cody Zeller, a guy whose impact is understated, got injured multiple times and played only 33 games. MKG didn’t have any major injuries like the past but had a minor injury. By the time the end of the season rolled around, MCW, Treveon, Bacon, AND Cody were all on the bench. The MCW injury gave Monk an opportunity to break out, but that about the only good that came out of them.

Attendance: For the second consecutive season attendance declined in Charlotte. For a city that once led the league in attendance for eight straight years, it’s disappointing to see them towards the bottom of the league now. You can’t really blame fans, the product isn’t great.

Defense: Given that defense has always been what Clifford preached, this shouldn’t be appearing under the “ugly” list. I mean it wasn’t the worst by any means, but this team just cannot defend the perimeter. They haven’t been able to for the last two years. Often times it feels like the defensive coaching philosophy is outdated.

Technical Free Throws: Maybe this isn’t ugly, as it actually feels more humorous than anything. Dwight’s relationship with the refs has always been a joy to watch and it didn’t change this season. Dwight led the league with 17 techs, and the only game he missed was because he got that 16th tech (automatic 1-game suspension).  

Literally Any Loss to the Bulls: Perhaps the first bad omen for the season was when Kemba scored 47 in a loss to the 3-20 Bulls. It’s no real secret that the Bulls were tanking this year, but the Hornets still managed to lose to them three times. The first two really hurt, but by the time the third one rolled around enough damage had been done. The Bulls aren’t the only bad loss the Hornets had, but to do so 3 times? Bleh.

Losing Streaks: This may have been the most streaky Hornets/Bobcats team I’ve seen in my lifetime. FOUR times this season the Hornets had a winning streak of 3+ games that was immediately followed by a losing streak of 4+ games. I wish I had a way of knowing if this had ever happened to any team before, but I’m 99% sure it hasn’t.

LeBron: I think that one word alone is enough to be said. LeBron performed a season sweep of the Hornets, again. Kemba Walker has never beaten LeBron, and the team as a whole has beaten him just once since 2010. LeBron never seems to let up when he knows he facing the team owned by Michael Jordan. One good thing about LeBron though is the immense respect he showed Kemba when Kemba broke the Hornets all-time scoring record against Cleveland.  

Next: Ranking Hornets players by their college careers

Well, there they are. Those 30 things pretty much summarize everything you need to know about the Charlotte Hornets if you missed all 82 games this season.