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The New Model For Charlotte Hornets Success


So over the years, we've talked about which team's model to follow to build up a contender. What started with the OKC model ended abruptly with the Unibrow scandal. The Pacers/Grizzlies model was admired for building up from mid round picks, except we could never quite draft an all-star or two like they did. The Spurs are to be admired by everyone but never able to be copied due to the brilliance of the front office, coach, and players.

Forget the Warriors model, as it requires the best shooter in human history, as well as another all-time type shooter.

But knowing Cho's analytical side, and actually listening to Clifford's words when interviewed last year lamenting the severe lack of shooting we had, its clear what the mission was this summer. To follow Atlanta's footsteps and bring Western Conference style basketball to the East.

Other eastern teams can get trigger happy with the 3 at times, but it still is more of a defensive, grind it out type of conference. Atlanta and the WC teams push the pace at breakneck speeds, trying to spread you out with a barrage of 3s and timely drives to the rim. And since the West has dominated the East in head to head games for near a decade, it was due time for somebody in the east to try that style out on a regular basis.

Atlanta did it spectacularly last year, where they often would have 5 three point shooters on the floor at the same time, using the quickness of Teague and Schroeder to get to the hole at will, and utilizing medium Al in the post to draw double teams, or take care of mismatches down low.

Yes, its only preseason, but I think in 4 games we've hit more 3 pointers than the Bobcat's team for the entire season of the year that shall not be named. We are now a fast paced team based on ball movement and quick decisions (with people that actually know how to make quick decisions now), and pummeling teams with 3 point shooters at all positions. Its looking good.

And as Clifford's strength is defense, I still think we'll be in the upper half of defense in the league. Big Al seems like an odd fit, but I think it works here because of his ability to draw double teams, and capability of dropping 20-30 if people stop paying attention to him.

I think we can have an Atlanta like resurgence (or would it be surgence in our case?), and barring injuries, get into the top 4.

Now which of yall homers are with me?


  • 14 Comments

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    Veteran_Picksetter
    Oct 15 2015 03:22 PM

    When you are an NBA franchise that might never attract a superstar, then good shooting, offensive teamwork, and versatile players can somewhat make up for it and cover a lot of ills. I don't know about top 4 in the East, but I'm on board with the model.

    So over the years, we've talked about which team's model to follow to build up a contender. What started with the OKC model ended abruptly with the Unibrow scandal. The Pacers/Grizzlies model was admired for building up from mid round picks, except we could never quite draft an all-star or two like they did.

     

    What mid-round picks? Cho's been drafting in the top 10 for a half-decade now. The rebuild never actually ended, they just haven't drafted particularly well. 

    We're clearly modeling our team after Stan Van Gundy's Orlando teams more than anything else. We aren't really built or playing like Atlanta at all. Our pace is still extremely slow and our style is still pretty grindy.

    Photo
    QC Thundercats
    Oct 15 2015 09:07 PM

    What mid-round picks? Cho's been drafting in the top 10 for a half-decade now. The rebuild never actually ended, they just haven't drafted particularly well.

    You're right, I should clarify. The context of the Pacers and Grizzlies came up when half the board wanted to tank every year until we got a superstar, and the rest of us were saying it was possible to build a contender like those two teams, even if we were picking in the teens and relying on smart trades. This came up after signing Al, and us expecting to be at least a playoff contender for a few years.

    Of course, not nailing every draft pick held us back from that, but it was theoretically possible. And we were able to trade our way into a very intriguing team this year, with our underachieving picks starting to show good fruit, despite mkg's injury.

    You're right, I should clarify. The context of the Pacers and Grizzlies came up when half the board wanted to tank every year until we got a superstar, and the rest of us were saying it was possible to build a contender like those two teams, even if we were picking in the teens and relying on smart trades. This came up after signing Al, and us expecting to be at least a playoff contender for a few years.

    Of course, not nailing every draft pick held us back from that, but it was theoretically possible. And we were able to trade our way into a very intriguing team this year, with our underachieving picks starting to show good fruit, despite mkg's injury.

     

    i would also add that it is more of a case of bad draft luck vs horrendous picks. it seems that cho didn't choose terribly (every pick is defensible) but also never nailed a pick. outside of landing davis, where the hornets were in the best possible position and gave themselves the best chance, there were no obvious franchise players to be had. had the lotto balls not been diverted to NO by stern, the whole rebuild would be looked at as a success. you could successfully argue that signing al was a year too early and probably cost the hornets a shot at a 2nd top 10 pick in 2014 but what would that have landed had it not been wiggins or parker?

     

    all of this is to say that qc's central point is a good one, the tank to succeed is far from a sure bet and it looks like the team of this upcoming season has been built to succeed with the absence of a true superstar.

     

    it is sort of ironic that bogg was the critical poster when boston is clearly in a position of not sure where the rebuild is going. yes they have a ton of picks but at least 2 or 3 teams turned those picks down on draft night. now, it is never a bad thing to have a war chest of assets but it doesn't guarantee landing a superstar any more than having the most lotto balls. 

    Photo
    QC Thundercats
    Oct 16 2015 06:09 AM

    We're clearly modeling our team after Stan Van Gundy's Orlando teams more than anything else. We aren't really built or playing like Atlanta at all. Our pace is still extremely slow and our style is still pretty grindy.

    Small sample size of course, but how do you get that conclusion this year? We're averaging 104 points per game (top 10) vs only 94 last year. Hitting 11 threes per game (top 3) vs only 6 last year, and shooting 41% (top 4) vs only 31% last year.

    Whatever extremely slow and grindy means, were playing exactly opposite of that right now.

    i'm with you!

    heck, it's for stories like this -and what this season may be- that i follow sports.

    never been a fan of dominant teams that stroll through the season and win what was an expected championship.

    it's the underdog story, of the disrespected, thrown away players, that somehow find redemption in the team, that's what draws me in and gives the real joy in witnessing their victory. 

    what ever happens this season it will be interesting, and even if it's another season of anguish and failed expectations, just the possibility, the small odds of turning into something special will be worth it to follow this team!

    12 more days folks!

    So over the years, we've talked about which team's model to follow to build up a contender. What started with the OKC model ended abruptly with the Unibrow scandal. The Pacers/Grizzlies model was admired for building up from mid round picks, except we could never quite draft an all-star or two like they did. The Spurs are to be admired by everyone but never able to be copied due to the brilliance of the front office, coach, and players.

    Forget the Warriors model, as it requires the best shooter in human history, as well as another all-time type shooter.

    But knowing Cho's analytical side, and actually listening to Clifford's words when interviewed last year lamenting the severe lack of shooting we had, its clear what the mission was this summer. To follow Atlanta's footsteps and bring Western Conference style basketball to the East.

    Other eastern teams can get trigger happy with the 3 at times, but it still is more of a defensive, grind it out type of conference. Atlanta and the WC teams push the pace at breakneck speeds, trying to spread you out with a barrage of 3s and timely drives to the rim. And since the West has dominated the East in head to head games for near a decade, it was due time for somebody in the east to try that style out on a regular basis.

    Atlanta did it spectacularly last year, where they often would have 5 three point shooters on the floor at the same time, using the quickness of Teague and Schroeder to get to the hole at will, and utilizing medium Al in the post to draw double teams, or take care of mismatches down low.

    Yes, its only preseason, but I think in 4 games we've hit more 3 pointers than the Bobcat's team for the entire season of the year that shall not be named. We are now a fast paced team based on ball movement and quick decisions (with people that actually know how to make quick decisions now), and pummeling teams with 3 point shooters at all positions. Its looking good.

    And as Clifford's strength is defense, I still think we'll be in the upper half of defense in the league. Big Al seems like an odd fit, but I think it works here because of his ability to draw double teams, and capability of dropping 20-30 if people stop paying attention to him.

    I think we can have an Atlanta like resurgence (or would it be surgence in our case?), and barring injuries, get into the top 4.

    Now which of yall homers are with me?

    i would also add that it is more of a case of bad draft luck vs horrendous picks. it seems that cho didn't choose terribly (every pick is defensible) but also never nailed a pick. outside of landing davis, where the hornets were in the best possible position and gave themselves the best chance, there were no obvious franchise players to be had. had the lotto balls not been diverted to NO by stern, the whole rebuild would be looked at as a success. you could successfully argue that signing al was a year too early and probably cost the hornets a shot at a 2nd top 10 pick in 2014 but what would that have landed had it not been wiggins or parker?

     

    I'm assuming the whole "the Hornets were robbed of AD" thing is a joke, but otherwise bringing up the number/location of the draft picks Charlotte's had was meant more as a comment on the sometimes-repeated-around-here line that signing Al cut the rebuild short and the Bobcats should have just been patient for another year or two, as if they've spent the last several seasons picking in the 15-19 range. Even in the year they made the playoffs Charlotte never stopped picking in the top third of the draft, so I'm not sure they ever moved out of the "build through the lottery" stage. 

     

    As far as Cho's draft choices go, none of them flamed out in spectacular fashion, they were all pretty defensible at the time, and I don't like to go back after four/five years and say "well, he clearly should have drafted player X and player Y!", because you can re-do anyone's draft with the benefit of hindsight. Sure, theoretically he could have drafted Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson instead of Kemba and Biz, but he could have drafted Jimmer Fredette and Chris Singleton too. What I will say is that I'm starting to be disappointed with the long-term returns as a whole. After six consecutive top-10 picks the team looks to have a complimentary scoring guard, a high-level glue guy defender, and two 4/5s who may or may not be viable long-term starters. At some point you've gotta find someone you can build around with that many picks. 

     

     

    it is sort of ironic that bogg was the critical poster when boston is clearly in a position of not sure where the rebuild is going. yes they have a ton of picks but at least 2 or 3 teams turned those picks down on draft night. now, it is never a bad thing to have a war chest of assets but it doesn't guarantee landing a superstar any more than having the most lotto balls. 

     

     

    Boston still having those picks in their possession is precisely why I'm not worried about their status as a fringe playoff team, as I would normally be in such a scenario. By being competitive they're leaving the door open to a mid-season trade in the event someone like Carmelo or Paul George were to wind up available, but if not Brooklyn appears to be bottoming out for them over the next three years and they're probably getting an additional late lotto pick from Dallas as well (plus that wild card from Memphis in 2019). Maybe they'll trade for a star, or even make the playoffs without doing so, and that'd be great, but if not they're still probably winding up with a top-10 pick from Brooklyn and a pair of late lottery picks via Dallas and their own to do what they will with. They're in pretty good position to go wherever the market takes them rather than banking on a specific scenario. 

    It's nice that you mention Atl; all those shooters, especially shooting bigs.  They got that from the Spurs apparently, the team that used to be the most defensive.  Now it's a lot of ball movement, a lot of shooters, a lot of passers.  Coincidence that five of the new comers are from the West?  Now MKG just needs to develop the corner three to be the 3&D stud.

     

    From what I saw in preseason game 4, Al is gonna do fine in this system.  He will have a lot of opportunities to make quick moves against single coverage.  As long as he doesn't slow it down too much or not pass enough, it's gonna be good!

    Small sample size of course, but how do you get that conclusion this year? We're averaging 104 points per game (top 10) vs only 94 last year. Hitting 11 threes per game (top 3) vs only 6 last year, and shooting 41% (top 4) vs only 31% last year.

    Whatever extremely slow and grindy means, were playing exactly opposite of that right now.

    We are scoring well and shooting lots of threes but our pace is still one of the slower in the league. We are still based on defense, controlling the pace, limiting transition opportunities, winning the possession battle, and half-court offense. We are shooting lots of 3s and moving the ball well in the half-court so we are in a sense definitely playing at a faster "pace", but technically our pace is still slow.

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    QC Thundercats
    Oct 17 2015 09:38 AM

    We are still based on defense, controlling the pace, limiting transition opportunities, winning the possession battle, and half-court offense.

    Yes, these are the bedrock principles of Clifford's philosophy, which I think is a good formula for success.
     

    We are scoring well and shooting lots of threes but our pace is still one of the slower in the league...We are shooting lots of 3s and moving the ball well in the half-court so we are in a sense definitely playing at a faster "pace", but technically our pace is still slow.

     

    I know from your posts here that you definitely share Brother Dave's cynical viewpoint of things.  But I know you see a clear style shift from our offense this year, and its not just because the ball happens to go in the basket. 

     

    There is a clear emphasis on crisper ball movement, shooting 3's, and not letting the shot clock run out.  There was a story earlier where the guards had to get the ball over half court in 5 seconds or it was a turnover.  Clearly a focus on being faster and starting sets quicker.

     

    When you say extremely slow and grindy, I have horrific flashbacks to Larry Brown's style of milking the shot clock to 0 for a last second Felton bomb, an abhorrence for the 3 ball, making sure we have a stock of defensive gurus like dominic mcsomething and Gana Diop, and generating offense from inside the paint.  Like I said earlier, what we're doing now is the opposite of that - crisp and open, not grindy. 

     

    Being calculating and in control in the half court doesn't necessarily mean slow.  The Spurs of course are masters of this, and they have decades more experience than the hornets do in this style.  But we're more emulating that style than the notorious LB.

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    BrotherDave
    Oct 17 2015 01:35 PM

    I think we can have an Atlanta like resurgence (or would it be surgence in our case?), and barring injuries, get into the top 4.

    Now which of yall homers are with me?

    Let's say I'm highly skeptical.  Charlotte is just following the latest trend.  Seems like everybody is trying to copy the "pace and space" style so the question becomes whether Charlotte can do it better than everyone else and that's where my doubts arise.

     

    i would also add that it is more of a case of bad draft luck vs horrendous picks. it seems that cho didn't choose terribly (every pick is defensible) but also never nailed a pick. 

    I guess mediocre is a defense.   :ehh:

     

    It's nice that you mention Atl; all those shooters, especially shooting bigs.  They got that from the Spurs apparently, the team that used to be the most defensive.  Now it's a lot of ball movement, a lot of shooters, a lot of passers.  Coincidence that five of the new comers are from the West?  Now MKG just needs to develop the corner three to be the 3&D stud.

     

    From what I saw in preseason game 4, Al is gonna do fine in this system.  He will have a lot of opportunities to make quick moves against single coverage.  As long as he doesn't slow it down too much or not pass enough, it's gonna be good!

    I think Al's play this year is one of the most interesting sub-plots.  He looks really out of place and marginalized from what I've seen but he's making a go of it.  Al-fense most definitely is better for Al's numbers and thus contract negotiations but his numbers might not slide too much from the extra bump the higher PPP will provide in a successful pace and space style.  The operative word is 'successful' though, if Charlotte's preseason success doesn't translate in the regular season and they go through slumps, I can see Al whispering in Clifford's ear to return to Al-fense so he can pad those stats for his tv contract.

     

     

    I think Al's play this year is one of the most interesting sub-plots.  He looks really out of place and marginalized from what I've seen but he's making a go of it.  Al-fense most definitely is better for Al's numbers and thus contract negotiations but his numbers might not slide too much from the extra bump the higher PPP will provide in a successful pace and space style.  The operative word is 'successful' though, if Charlotte's preseason success doesn't translate in the regular season and they go through slumps, I can see Al whispering in Clifford's ear to return to Al-fense so he can pad those stats for his tv contract.

     

    do you think there is a possibility that Al knows that the trend for the whole league is to go away from a post centered, slow paced big man centered offense. he knows that his next contract hinges more on him being able to show that he can play well within a more modern offense? if he does, then the year can go really well, if he doesn't then it could be a contentious year between him and the team.

    I think Al's play this year is one of the most interesting sub-plots.  He looks really out of place and marginalized from what I've seen but he's making a go of it.  Al-fense most definitely is better for Al's numbers and thus contract negotiations but his numbers might not slide too much from the extra bump the higher PPP will provide in a successful pace and space style.  The operative word is 'successful' though, if Charlotte's preseason success doesn't translate in the regular season and they go through slumps, I can see Al whispering in Clifford's ear to return to Al-fense so he can pad those stats for his tv contract.

    He didn't look good for the first two games, but for the third game, he got 17 points, that was not bad at all.  The lineup was different tho, for that game.