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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Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

18. Emeka Okafor, 2004-05

  • NBA Rookie of the Year
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team
  • 15.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.7 BPG
  • 4.0 Win Shares, 3.1 Defensive Win Shares

Emeka Okafor is our first of very few Bobcats to make this all-time list. Okafor was a sensational college basketball player, leading the UConn Huskies to a national championship over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 2004. He would be the first-ever draft pick by the expansion Bobcats in the 2004 NBA Draft.

Taken No. 2 overall, Okafor did not disappoint during his first year in the league. He averaged a double-double with 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game to go along with 1.7 blocks per contest. Being the star player on an awful expansion team helped Okafor not only make the NBA All-Rookie First Team, but he won NBA Rookie of the Year in the process during the 2004-05 campaign.

Though he would play his first five NBA seasons with the Bobcats, Charlotte would never make the Eastern Conference Playoffs during his tenure with the team. A big reason for this was that Okafor never really developed into a sound offensive player.

He could absolutely bring it on the defensive end, as well as on the glass. That being said, his 15.1 points per game as a rookie in 2004-05 would be the most of his so-so NBA career. Yes, Okafor averaged a double-double during his entire time with the Bobcats (14.0 points, 10.7 rebounds per game). Unfortunately, that never translated to winning.

Charlotte would actually make its first trip to the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the Bobcats the year Okafor was traded to the then-New Orleans Hornets for center Tyson Chandler. Chandler was more of a defensive maven than Okafor, which helped the Bobcats reach the 2010 NBA Playoffs behind small forward Gerald Wallace’s brilliance.

Frankly, the Bobcats’ legacy is one of futility and rampant losing. However, it did result in two playoff berths, two All-League honors, an All-Star nod and a Rookie of the Year recognition. Okafor becoming the city’s second Rookie of the Year is something Charlotteans can look back on fondly in their growing NBA history.