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 Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

16. Larry Johnson, 1994-95

  • NBA All-Star
  • 18.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.0 SPG
  • 4.9 Offensive Win Shares, 3.6 Defensive Win Shares
  • 8.5 Win Shares, 4.0 Value Over Replacement Player

Larry Johnson split his 10-year NBA career evenly between the Hornets (1991-96) and the New York Knicks (1996-01). Charlotte used the No. 1 overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft on the former collegiate superstar for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. He was arguably the first superstar in the history of Hornets basketball.

Johnson entered the 1994-95 NBA season as a Rookie of the Year and an All-NBA Team player. After a 1993-94 NBA season that limited Johnson to just 51 games due to a bad back, Johnson would rebound with one of the better years in his NBA career.

Johnson made his second of two NBA All-Star Games, as he averaged 18.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game for the Hornets. Charlotte would qualify for the Eastern Conference Playoffs, but lost to the Chicago Bulls in four games in the first-round.

While this wasn’t Johnson’s best year with the Hornets, 1994-95 might signify the peak of that era of Hornets hoops’ popularity. Players like Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Dell Curry and Muggsy Bogues were household names in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. Unfortunately, Charlotte never got all that far in the postseason.

Regardless, Johnson was still a high-end player for the Hornets this season. He registered 4.9 offensive win shares and 3.6 defensive win shares, bringing his season total to 8.5 overall. This would be the third-highest win shares total Johnson put together in Hornets uniform.

This season is memorable for Johnson individually, since this was his best defensive season while in Charlotte uniform. However, it would signify the beginning of the end for this era of Hornets hoops.

Johnson and Mourning would often butt heads over who was this team’s star player. Mourning would be traded to the Miami Heat in the 1995 NBA offseason in the Glen Rice deal. Johnson was dealt to Knicks in exchange for Anthony Mason a year later.