Charlotte Hornets: Rewind of the Oddly Successful 2015-16 Season

Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker. Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker. Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Charlotte Hornets are in the midst of a decade long stretch of mediocrity. Here is a deep dive into the franchise’s sole successful season over that period of time.

In an age when there is little sports news to report on, many outlets have analyzed the past. In fact, arguably the most notable happening in the month of April for NBA fans is the 10-part Michael Jordan documentary that will be premiering April 19th on ESPN.

In the Charlotte Hornets bubble, fans can look back on the team’s own successes fondly. It’s not quite how Bulls fans may look back on the 1997-1998 season, but Buzz City should take pride in the 48-win, 2015-2016 season nonetheless.

When looking at the state of the franchise before and after, the 2015-2016 campaign was quite random. The Steve Clifford run Hornets won 33 games the season before and 36 games each of the two seasons following. However, when digging deeper there is a clear case that can be made for how Rich Cho and company captured lightning in a bottle for that singular season.

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The 2015-2016 campaign marked Clifford’s third season with the Hornets. This is typically the ‘make or break’ year for first-time head coaches. He saw moderate success his first season, sneaking Charlotte into the postseason amid a depleted crop of Eastern Conference playoff teams.

After declines across the board his second season, it made it even more imperative for the 2015-2016 season to be successful.

The cleverness started the previous offseason. The Hornets selected Frank Kaminsky in the 2015 NBA Draft. Kaminsky was coming off of one of the most notable college careers in recent memory. Despite his shortcomings over the course of the past two years, he gave Clifford a unique option off the bench in his rookie season. In other words, looking at that season in a vacuum, the Wisconsin alum played an efficient, Matt Bonner type role.

Cho also brought ‘Linsanity’ on board that offseason. This was a questionable move at the time considering Jeremy Lin was coming off uninspired pitstops in Los Angeles and Houston. However, with the phenomenon that was ‘Linsanity’ still in recent memory, could he recapture the magic of that fateful Knicks season?

A few minimum contracts later, Clifford had the pieces in place for the defining season of his Hornets tenure. Fans were not cognizant of the idea that their team was due for its most successful season since the 1990s. Here is how Buzz City became the surprise team of the 2015-2016 NBA season.