Charlotte Hornets: 20 greatest player seasons in franchise history

Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Larry Johnson, Charlotte Hornets
Larry Johnson, Charlotte Hornets. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. Larry Johnson, 1992-93

  • All-NBA Second Team
  • NBA All-Star
  • 22.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 4.3 APG
  • 9.6 Win Shares, 4.6 Value Over Replacement Player

In terms of sheer basketball talent, Larry Johnson may very well have been the most talented player in the history of the Charlotte franchise. After dominating college hoops at UNLV for Jerry Tarkanian, Charlotte would use the No. 1 overall pick on him in the 1991 NBA Draft.

Johnson won NBA Rookie of the Year in 1992. All that did was set up his best season as a professional in year two. No, Johnson was not going to fall victim of a sophomore slump. Instead, all he did was make his first NBA All-Star Game and earn a spot on the All-NBA Second Team.

So how did Johnson do this? Well, he averaged 22.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. This led to have having 9.6 win shares on the year, giving him a value over replacement player of 4.6. Johnson never averaged more points in a season in his decade-long NBA career, nor did he ever surpass his 4.6 value over replacement player.

Essentially, Johnson’s high-flying, above-the-rim style of play, as well as being a double-double machine are part of what made the early 1990s Hornets such a fun team. This is “Grandmama” at the peak of his powers in the prime years of early Hornets hoops. When we think of Johnson in the NBA, this is the year we need to go to.

Thanks to his best season on the hardwood, Charlotte would qualify for the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Hornets knocked off the Boston Celtics in their first-round series thanks to a clutch shot by Johnson’s teammate Alonzo Mourning at the buzzer. That bucket sent Celtics hall of fame big man Kevin McHale into retirement.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, they are still chasing that bucket by “‘Zo”, as Charlotte has never had that kind of playoff success since. Johnson and Mourning could not get along, which brought to end this golden age of Hornets hoops. Mourning would be traded to the Miami Heat for Glen Rice in 1995. Johnson was shipped to the New York Knicks for Anthony Mason a year later.