When you think of the early days of Charlotte Hornets basketball, many people forget how crucial Kendall Gill was to their early success.
There have been many celebrated players throughout the history of the Charlotte Hornets, but one name many people tend to forget is that of Kendall Gill. Perhaps it’s due to him playing in the same era as Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, but Gill was arguably as integral as the two big-men in getting the Hornets to their first-ever playoff appearance.
Drafted in the 1990 NBA Draft out the University of Illinois, the Chicago native averaged 20 points a contest in his senior year before being taken by the Hornets with the 5th overall pick. His rookie year was rather pedestrian, putting up a modest 11 points a night backing up Rex Chapman on a Hornets squad that won just 26 games. Despite that, he was named to the All-Rookie team that year.
Chapman was then traded to the then Washington Bullets the following season and Gill was inserted into the starting lineup. With Gill and rookie Larry Johnson leading the way, the team saw a small improvement from the previous season, winning 31 games.
Kendall Gill wasn’t a big name, but he certainly complimented the two stars on the Charlotte Hornets’ roster.
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Gill averaged 20 points a night and shot 47% from the field. He wasn’t a threat from behind the arc just yet, though, making just 24% of his shots from outside, but eventually, he would become fairly adept at hitting from deep.
The next year saw his numbers dip a bit, but with the duo of Johnson and Mourning picking up the majority of the scoring, Gill provided a nice third option for the playoff-bound team. He put up a very respectable 17 points a game and again, shot the ball well, making 45% of his buckets.
The team would go on to trade Gill to the Seattle Supersonics during the following offseason. He would not see much success in Seattle, despite playing with All-Stars like Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.
The 1995-1996 season would see Gill return to the Queen City, but he would be traded to the New Jersey Nets after playing in just 37 games for the Hornets. He failed to regain the numbers he had in his previous years and it seemed the team wanted to go in a new direction.
He would stay in New Jersey for six seasons, playing well, including averaging nearly 22 points a night in the 1996-1997 campaign. He would bounce around the league toward the end of his career, but his offensive abilities declined sharply due to injuries and age. He did lead the NBA in steals during the 1998-1999 season as he shifted towards being more of a defensive factor on the court.
He officially retired from the NBA after 2005 but did enjoy a comeback of sorts in Ice Cube’s “BIG3” league. He has pursued interests such as boxing and providing analysis for Chicago Bulls games.
He was never a bonafide star, nor was he even really a household name, but Kendall Gill was part of the Charlotte Hornets’ early success and while most of the attention went to his All-Star teammates, he was a major contributor during his time with the team.
Without him, it’s debatable the team even makes the playoffs back then, despite having one of the better frontcourts in the NBA at the time. He didn’t play long in a Charlotte Hornets uniform, but his time was certainly fruitful.