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Thoughts on the Charlotte Hornets Youth


Well, the blessing in disguise (or if you're BrotherDave, the blessing) with Al being out is that not only does Cliff not have his crutch to rely on, but our young guys can't use him as a crutch either. They are now forced to step up because we need the production.

And if it is indeed the front office's goal to still create a good team with Al, then our draft picks need to show some marked improvement to become legitimate, consistent threats, which they have the opportunity to do now. The training wheels are off now kiddos, start pedaling now before you crash.

Kemba - I know most of us look at Kemba as one of our veteran leaders, but this is only the start of his 4th year, and he is still only 24. In December, he averaged 21.7 points and 5.3 assists on 43% FG, 38% 3FG, and in January, he's up to 24.3 points and 5.3 assists. He's starting to be more consistent, and running the pick and roll better than ever.

MKG - we know his shot finally looks normal, now its a matter of getting confidence and being more aggressive. The last five games, he's averaged 12.2 points and 8 rebounds on 47% shooting, but more importantly is taking 10.6 shots per game. An aggressive MKG seems to always give our team a boost, and he feels closer and closer to getting over the hump into a solid scoring option to go with his great defense. It took Crash 5 years to get to 15ppg, this is MKG's third year.

Cody - an inflatable-wavy-flailing-arm-fall-on-your-face guy at the beginning of his rookie year, to now, Mr. Perfect. His growth has continuously taken noticeable steps, and without Al is averaging 13.3 points and 7 rebounds in January

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Biz - well, it seem the more minutes he plays, the less productive he is. Maybe he needs his Lance to make him dance, but he does give us an intimidating paint protector. And as long as we've had him, he just turned 22 this year. Still younger than some of this year's draft picks. Crazy.

PJ - looked like last game he finally realized that NBA rules permit you to bounce the ball on the ground and move forward. If he can diversify his game and not rely on the 3 point shot so much, there is a lot of points he can get getting to the basket and at the line, and then he can become a mini-Beard. But he's shown a good knack for defense, so thats at least a good start.

Maxiell - even though we got a top 4 talent with our lottery pick, I realize Cliff has to bring him off the bench behind Biz and Vonl....wait a minute. That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works...


  • 16 Comments

    Add Jahlil Okafor and that's a promising core

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    InProblematique
    Jan 07 2015 12:59 AM

    I lol'd at the end.

     

    Cody's had his ups and downs. During his high notes, he's been exactly what I saw when we drafted him. Not many guys on this team play above-the-rim, and while I know that's not a prerequisite to being a good team (I'm looking at you, Minnesota), it is still fun to watch. It's nice to have guys who elevate and throw down from time to time. We have a PG who, having met in person around town three times, I am 99.9% sure is not even six feet tall. Obviously not a rim-rocker. Granted, Kemba is exciting in many ways that most guys in the league can't be, so that's fine. Lance dances around a lot, and usually goes for a circus shot or easy lay-up over a dunk. Hendo can really get up there (we've seen him get Gerald Green elevation before), but it feels like he has four or five really good dunks a year, and the rest are pretty simple flushes. Same with MKG. Hairston has the athletic ability to throw it down, he's just been fucking glued to the floor behind the arc. Cody's really the only guy on this team I look at and think, "hey, he's about to throw it down right now."

     

    Like I said, it doesn't really matter as far as whether or not your team can break the glass, but let's face it... watching the Clippers play is more fun than watching the Grizzlies, even though they're pretty comparable in terms of overall talent.

     

    I just wish Cody would stop disappearing for such drawn out stretches. Just like the other night, he had 16 in the first half, and then four in the second half of the game. 8-8 from the field is fantastic for anyone, but it's okay to be aggressive and miss. Take some more shots, become the polished offensive player we drafted.

     

    P.J. just has some work to do. I really like his skill set, and I think he can be a good wing player for the team in a year or two. Right now it's about working out the kinks and finding his stroke. He's looked good on occasion, terrible on others. Pretty much what I was expecting when we drafted him.

     

    MKG hasn't stuffed the stat sheet, but this is easily the most efficient, effective season he's had on offense. Teams can't just leave him open anymore. Like you said, I think he has the same issues as Cody... he just needs to be more aggressive. But his defense has been every bit as good as always, and he's clearly maturing. And when he's on the court, him and Kemba are the absolute heart and soul of the team.

     

    Noah not playing is, at this point, nonsensical. Maxiell has no value whatsoever. I get wanting to bring Noah along slowly, but it's just become a farce. If he was DNP CD every night at the expense of even a passable big man, I wouldn't be all that upset about it. But Jason Maxiell has ranged anywhere from absolutely horrible to being a worthless lump whose only value is being a chunk of meat to stand around and maybe box a player out on occasion. He's just not a good basketball player. 

     

    Nothing I can say about Kemba that I haven't said over and over again. He's been huge for us this year. I hope when Lance comes back to the court, we keep our starting line-up as is, and bring Lance in to back Kemba up. We can't keep playing him 40 minutes every night. 25 points one night, 30 the next, but you can still tell he's obviously gradually becoming more and more fatigued, especially later in the game. We need to give that kid a break. And some kind of award.

     

    In other words, great post as always, QC. Agreed on all accounts.

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    InProblematique
    Jan 07 2015 01:10 AM

    Add Jahlil Okafor and that's a promising core

    Considering the fact that we're nowhere nearly the worst team in the NBA, and even when we were, we still couldn't get a top pick, we have almost absolutely no chance of getting him.

     

    Besides, to be perfectly honest, I like Emmanuel Mudiay more. I know I just raved about Kemba, but Mudiay is seriously incredible. Okafor's a freak too, but Mudiay's physical tools, court vision, shot creation, and improving offensive skills border on impossible to pass up. And to go even one step further, from what I've seen of Karl Towns so far, he might be every bit as valuable as Okafor. Towns is less polished offensively, but he's a significantly better two-way player. Okafor has the length to be at least a pest on defense, but not the natural instincts, so I don't think he'll ever be more than a passable defender in the NBA. Whereas Towns is rougher around the edges offensively than Okafor, but he's already showing more and more growth on offense as the college season goes on. And he absolutely is a better defender than Okafor.

     

    All of that being said, unless we find a way to move into the top three in the draft by way of trade (because at this rate we'll probably end up in the mid-lottery record-wise), it's all moot. Teams like Philly, Detroit, Minnesota, and New York are hopeless, and there's no way we'll post a worst record than them unless shit seriously goes from bad to get me the fuck out of here bad. 

    See I think for PJ to really get his full effectiveness he needs to play for longer stretches.  When he's only playing 4 minutes at a time he's never gonna really heat up, I'd love to see him get 10+ minutes consecutively.  We know he can stroke it, he's just gotta find that zone

    Considering the fact that we're nowhere nearly the worst team in the NBA, and even when we were, we still couldn't get a top pick, we have almost absolutely no chance of getting him.

     

    Besides, to be perfectly honest, I like Emmanuel Mudiay more. I know I just raved about Kemba, but Mudiay is seriously incredible. Okafor's a freak too, but Mudiay's physical tools, court vision, shot creation, and improving offensive skills border on impossible to pass up. And to go even one step further, from what I've seen of Karl Towns so far, he might be every bit as valuable as Okafor. Towns is less polished offensively, but he's a significantly better two-way player. Okafor has the length to be at least a pest on defense, but not the natural instincts, so I don't think he'll ever be more than a passable defender in the NBA. Whereas Towns is rougher around the edges offensively than Okafor, but he's already showing more and more growth on offense as the college season goes on. And he absolutely is a better defender than Okafor.

     

    All of that being said, unless we find a way to move into the top three in the draft by way of trade (because at this rate we'll probably end up in the mid-lottery record-wise), it's all moot. Teams like Philly, Detroit, Minnesota, and New York are hopeless, and there's no way we'll post a worst record than them unless shit seriously goes from bad to get me the fuck out of here bad. 

    oh I know we have no chance at Jahlil, I was kinda trying to get across that even though we have some decent young guys we really desperately need a future first option to build a team around.  but i agree, mudiay is fucking raw with the rock

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    BrotherDave
    Jan 07 2015 02:19 AM

    Lance is only 24 himself I believe,  If he gels with the team while Al is out, well, wouldn't that be interesting?  

     

    Biz has played about as well as an offensively undeveloped big that is never passed to unless it's an "oh shit" moment can really.  He just needs to keep improving his FT% and trying to dunk everything.  

    IF we can add shooting threats at SG & PF (have we had this discussion before?) then Kemba's game will go to the next level. Yes Kemba, generally speaking, takes too many shots, some of them I'll advised ... but he does this because there isn't a better option on the court. Give him a better option and his assists will rise, while his shot selection/efficiency will improve.

    On the topic of PFs shooting, can we please get Cody a sports psychologist? Playing the minutes he currently is, he should always be taking 10+ shots a game ... and he is extremely capable of hitting a high % of them. He's a better shooter than he thinks he is. Maybe he'll turn the corner next season, but it would help our front office out massively if he can let them know before the season ends that he's ready to shoot whenever it's on.

    MKG ... keep doing what you're doing and growing how you're growing.

    I'm absolutely fine with Bizz protecting the rim, rebounding the ball, scoring off put backs, hitting free throws at a decent % and setting screens. That's his role and it's an extremely valuable one.

    As for PJ & Noah ... they simply need minutes. Neal shouldn't prevent PJ from getting his and it's a joke that Maxiel is seeing the number of minutes he currently is while Noah isn't even touching the court ... complete joke.
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    @JPlowright_NBA
    Jan 07 2015 06:43 AM

    See I think for PJ to really get his full effectiveness he needs to play for longer stretches.  When he's only playing 4 minutes at a time he's never gonna really heat up, I'd love to see him get 10+ minutes consecutively.  We know he can stroke it, he's just gotta find that zone

     

    PJ Has always had issues, but he has been so good at basketball a lot of people have let that slide. I think it's good he is finally in a place where if he messes up, he isn't so valuable to the team he can't be disciplined 

    Considering the fact that we're nowhere nearly the worst team in the NBA, and even when we were, we still couldn't get a top pick, we have almost absolutely no chance of getting him.

     

     

    All of that being said, unless we find a way to move into the top three in the draft by way of trade (because at this rate we'll probably end up in the mid-lottery record-wise), it's all moot. Teams like Philly, Detroit, Minnesota, and New York are hopeless, and there's no way we'll post a worst record than them unless shit seriously goes from bad to get me the fuck out of here bad. 

     

     

    nowhere near?   We're the 7th worst team in the NBA record wise.  5 games out of the number 1 spot.    Firmly in the lottery as of right now, so there is absolutely a chance of getting him.  

     

    As of right now we have a 8.5% chance of a number 1 pick.  A 26% chance of getting a top 3 pick, and a 44% chance of landing in the top 5.    So I think Okafor is definitely in the realm of possibility, enough so at least that we can fantasize about adding him or one of the other fine prospects in the top 5 this year. 

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    raginranger
    Jan 07 2015 11:34 AM

    The question is would it be better to go full tank mode to increase our chances of an Okafor or Towns?

     

    Our current young core can run and play fast which might be better suited to one of their games, as opposed to continuing to play Al-fense.

     

    The only teams that have gone 100% Tank at this point look to the Knicks and 76ers, with Boston at a 90% tank by trading Rondo.

     

    Unless we "try to suck", we'll most likely end up with a better record than the 3 teams above, as well as Orlando, Indiana, Lakers, Jazz, and maybe one other.

     

    One concern to me with tanking though is the revitalization of this franchise.  With the re-branding to Hornets, many new people bought seasons tickets this year and/or are returning to games for the first time.  The general population doesn't understand a tanking strategy and people simply don't like paying to watch a losing team.  With a full-out tank strategy, we risk losing some of our current fanbase and stagnating the growth of our re-branded franchise.

    The question is would it be better to go full tank mode to increase our chances of an Okafor or Towns?

     

    Our current young core can run and play fast which might be better suited to one of their games, as opposed to continuing to play Al-fense.

     

    The only teams that have gone 100% Tank at this point look to the Knicks and 76ers, with Boston at a 90% tank by trading Rondo.

     

    Unless we "try to suck", we'll most likely end up with a better record than the 3 teams above, as well as Orlando, Indiana, Lakers, Jazz, and maybe one other.

     

    One concern to me with tanking though is the revitalization of this franchise.  With the re-branding to Hornets, many new people bought seasons tickets this year and/or are returning to games for the first time.  The general population doesn't understand a tanking strategy and people simply don't like paying to watch a losing team.  With a full-out tank strategy, we risk losing some of our current fanbase and stagnating the growth of our re-branded franchise.

     

    I mean, they're three and a half games out of the playoffs and all indications are that the team is in win-now mode. If they can play somewhat respectable ball between now and the deadline, I'd say it's a 90% probability that they make a win-now move instead of trying to tank. 

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    InProblematique
    Jan 07 2015 12:28 PM

    nowhere near?   We're the 7th worst team in the NBA record wise.  5 games out of the number 1 spot.    Firmly in the lottery as of right now, so there is absolutely a chance of getting him.  

     

    As of right now we have a 8.5% chance of a number 1 pick.  A 26% chance of getting a top 3 pick, and a 44% chance of landing in the top 5.    So I think Okafor is definitely in the realm of possibility, enough so at least that we can fantasize about adding him or one of the other fine prospects in the top 5 this year. 

    Like I said, we're bad, but we're not nearly as bad as the teams I listed. I also said we'll likely be a mid-lottery team at this rate (which and seventh is dead in the middle). And going off of our historical luck, even if we were to somehow make this season worse, we would actually have to really try to be as bad as Philly, Detroit, NYK, and Minnesota.

     

    Context.

    It's not called tanking when you just aren't very good.  

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    QC Thundercats
    Jan 07 2015 12:52 PM
     

    It's not called tanking when you just aren't very good.  

     

     

    I still don't think we're a bad team, just with mismatched talent.  I think the biggest part of the problem is that the coaching staff thought we could roll over into this season with the same formula as last year.  Except we lost our best connector who helped facilitate the offense and defense, we got worse shooting, and all the pelvic and groin sprains (did Ewing take them down to the Gold's Club too much?).

     

    But Clifford is being forced to change his gameplan now, and try to create a system that will accentuate the strengths of our players.  I still think they have the competitiveness and fire to get better and compete for the playoffs, and hopefully incorporate Lance and Al into the improved system.  Or make a trade for a better fit.

     

    The question is would it be better to go full tank mode to increase our chances of an Okafor or Towns?

     

    Our current young core can run and play fast which might be better suited to one of their games, as opposed to continuing to play Al-fense.

     

    The only teams that have gone 100% Tank at this point look to the Knicks and 76ers, with Boston at a 90% tank by trading Rondo.

     

    Unless we "try to suck", we'll most likely end up with a better record than the 3 teams above, as well as Orlando, Indiana, Lakers, Jazz, and maybe one other.

     

    One concern to me with tanking though is the revitalization of this franchise.  With the re-branding to Hornets, many new people bought seasons tickets this year and/or are returning to games for the first time.  The general population doesn't understand a tanking strategy and people simply don't like paying to watch a losing team.  With a full-out tank strategy, we risk losing some of our current fanbase and stagnating the growth of our re-branded franchise.

     

    I see where you're coming from, but this is not an option.  The front office made a business decision to become a playoff contending team as well as a winning culture in Charlotte.  All the goodwill will be destroyed if you pull a Philly or New York.   It would basically be a bait and switch, where they promised all the good times and winning to get people to buy season tickets, and once the fans got them, to just do the opposite.  The fans would not only be disappointed, but be insulted by the move, and half the season tickets folks would not renew.

     

    I've always hated the cynical nature of fans for the Bobcats and the constant cloud of doom and derision.  To come out of that morass only to dive back in would not only turn off the new fans, but a lot of us die hards too, and would be a way to return back into the red again.

     

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    raginranger
    Jan 07 2015 03:19 PM

    I wasn't saying that we should definitely tank.  I was just trying to spark an open discussion on the pro's and con's.

     

    Given our current position of only being 3.5 games out of the 8th seed in the crappy Eastern Conference, then I feel like we should definitely stay in win-now mode and try to make the playoffs.

     

    People in Charlotte have been waiting a long time for a contender and with the re-branding to Hornets, we can't handle the negative publicity of a tank strategy.

     

    Assuming we continue to play as we have and other teams start to tank/suck around us, I see us doing no worse than the 7th worst record in the NBA.  I see the Knicks, 76ers, Celtics, Magic, Pacers, and Jazz definitely having worse records than us by the end of the year.  The Lakers, Nets, and Heat could also have worse records as well if we start to improve.

     

    We're in a difficult middle ground of not being bad enough to tank and not good enough to have a legitimate chance of actually advancing far in the playoffs.  If we make the 8th seed again, it'd be a nice comeback story given our horribly sucky start, but would that really result in any progress?  I don't know.

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    Founding Hornet
    Jan 07 2015 05:43 PM
    The team will not tank.

    Would bet my house on that.