Where does the duo of Rozier and Graham rank among the best duos in Charlotte Hornets history?

Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

The years following Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace were some of the worst in franchise history, but a gentle giant and scrappy little guy would soon find their places in our hearts.

If you ask any modern Hornets fan what the darkest time in this team’s somewhat brief history is, it’s probably the time period just as Kemba Walker was drafted. The greatest Hornet ever didn’t exactly wow anyone in his first few seasons, but why the team failed was hardly his fault.

He wouldn’t be the Kemba we all have fond memories of today, but he would get there eventually. Until then, the team struggled badly and many point a finger towards ownership. I’ll leave my personal feelings out of this, but needless to say, for the better part of a decade (maybe even longer), fans have been upset with how the team has been managed.

To pour a mountain of salt in the wound, in Kemba’s first season, the team won just 7 games, good enough to qualify them for the worst record ever in an NBA regular season. It was another shortened year due to yet another lockout, so who knows if they could have gotten better with a full schedule, but it was unlikely.

The real kicker, though, is that despite having that record, the Bobcats somehow managed not to get the first pick in the NBA. That pick went on to go to the New Orleans Hornets… I think I’ll just leave it at that.

Must Read. Using NBA 2K20 to finish the Charlotte Hornets’ 2019-20 season. light

Anyway, Kemba and the Bobcats would improve over the years, with Walker solidifying himself as a star on the rise. However, it would take a new face entering the building for the team to finally sniff the playoffs again.

During the summer of 2013, the Bobcats inked Al Jefferson to a three-year deal, worth over $40 million. “Big Al,” as he had come to be known, was your prototypical idea of an NBA center. Big, strong, and able to muscle his way to the basket to put the ball in the hole or to grab a rebound. At the time, guys like him were still in vogue and over the years with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz, he had made a case for being one of the best centers in the NBA, if not the best at the time.

The duo of Kemba and Al would improve the team by leaps and bounds, guiding them to the playoffs for the first time in four years. Sadly, they would end up losing in the first round to a familiar foe; LeBron James and the Miami Heat. If you’ve followed my game previews over the years, you’ll know how much I’ve gone into detail into how LeBron has especially been a thorn in the side for Charlotte.

In the 2014-2015 season, the now Charlotte Hornets would take a step back. Winning just 33 games, they failed to make the playoffs. Much of that was due to a number of injuries to both the starters and guys coming off the bench. When they did play, the combo of Kemba and Al was still potent, but it was not enough to overcome the setbacks.

The next year would prove to be a much better one for Charlotte, with Kemba posting career highs in points. Sadly, injuries and a drug-related suspension hampered Jefferson, as he only managed to start 18 games. It would also be Big Al’s last season in Charlotte, as he would sign with the Indiana Pacers the following summer. Despite those injuries, the team made the playoffs with a 48-34 record and very nearly defeated the LeBron-less Miami Heat in seven games.

Some of you may be asking why I included this duo at this spot when in the short period in which they played together, they didn’t exactly achieve as much as the others. Well, a lot of it is Kemba, of course. He’s the greatest player the team has ever had and on top of that, you can’t help but pull for the guy, even now that he’s in a much greener uniform.

This is all conjecture on my part, but I feel like without Big Al’s presence in the middle, perhaps Kemba never would have been the player he became. He was showing flashes of brilliance before Jefferson showed up, and definitely balled out at UConn. Yet, Kemba started off as the wily sidekick, only to take over as the unchallenged leader when Jefferson was starting to wear down. Would we feel so fondly about our former captain if Big Al wasn’t there to be his co-pilot? Who knows? Worse yet, imagine the Hornets without either of them.

Next up, we’ll take a look at the first All-Star duo the Hornets ever had.