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Charlotte Hornets: 2016-2017 Season Outlook

The Charlotte Hornets enjoyed their best season since 2000 this past year with a 48-34 record. The breakout season unfortunately ended at the hands of divisional rival Miami Heat in seven games, but that shouldn’t take away from their successful season. The Hornets hope to sustain this success and become a fixture in the Eastern Conference for years to come.

The breakout player of the season was point guard Kemba Walker. The point guard had the best season of his five-year career, averaging a career high 20.9 points (16th in the league), a career high in field goal percentage (42.7%), career high in three-point percentage (37.1%), career high in free throw percentage (84.7%), 5.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. The 26-year old former #9 overall pick from UConn is entering the prime of his career and his scoring numbers are only expected to increase.

The question Kemba has to answer is whether he is a true franchise player? When you spark the debate of the best players in the NBA, or even the best point guards, Walker’s name is rarely ever mentioned. Walker’s exposure could be limited due to the lack of primetime games the Hornets are featured in. As of now, The Hornets will be on primetime six times next season: three on NBATV, two on ESPN, and one on TNT.

On the front office side, the Hornets were pretty quiet this offseason. They traded their first round pick to the Sacramento Kings for veteran swingman Marco Belinelli, re-signed Nicolas Batum to a $120 million contract, and let Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin leave via free agency. The team will rely on the development of their 2013 #4 overall pick Cody Zeller to lead their frontcourt, along with Marvin Williams, Frank Kaminsky, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Before you can forecast the 2016-2017 season, you have to determine if the Hornets 2015-2016 was a fluke or not. The Eastern Conference was a very tight last season with only four wins separating the 3 rd and 8 th seeds, and only seven wins between the 3rd and 10th. The Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25) and Toronto Raptors (56-26) were clearly the Conference’s best teams, as the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, and Hornets all finished at 48-34.

The Eastern Conference will have a tricky landscape next season. We know the Cleveland Cavaliers are by far the best team, but after them any team can rise up to the top of the conference. A lot went down in the East this offseason: Miami lost Dwyane Wade, the Hawks lost Jeff Teague and Al Horford but gained Dwight Howard, the Celtics acquired Horford and rookie Jaylen Brown, the Pacers picked up Jefferson and Thaddeus Young. As for teams who didn’t make the playoffs: the Bulls added Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Brook Lopez, the Wizards hired Scott Brooks, and the Knicks improved with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee.

With all of these teams improving, the Eastern Conference will be cluttered with these middle-of- the-pack teams. The Hornets do not have that one superstar that makes you think they can pull away from the pack. It will be up to Steve Clifford to build off last year and sustain this success. Clifford has a core of young players who now know what it takes to win. The Hornets should be right in the thick of the playoff race once again in 2017.


    It is crazy how fast time goes. The ESPN team thing on left hand of the website is showing hornets at mavs on October 3. Craziness
    Or everything could go terribly. Cho has a roster fire sale before the trade deadline, and we go back into rebuilding mode for the next 5 years. After that, the team will be relocated to Seattle where they hit the jack pot on the lottery and they go on to win 3 nba finals.

    The most likely projection for this year is that we continue to be one of the most consistent teams in the nba and then not get any credit for it. And of course, Kemba walker should make the all star team, but of course he won't.

    Or luol deng will shoot 89% from 3 point land and wade will play like he's 26 years old.