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Players Who Need To Emerge For The Hornets

Last season was the best this franchise has seen. Who is going to need to emerge for the Hornets in order for 2016 - 2017 to be even even better ?
The Charlotte Hornets are hoping to build off their 48-34 record last season and become a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. Head coach Steve Clifford will rely on Kemba Walker continuing his development into an All-Star and proven two-way wing player Nicolas Batum to be the leaders on his up-and-coming team. The Hornets will need those two players to play extremely well for them to succeed, but will also need players to emerge as reliable and productive players.

Cody Zeller

The Hornets selected Cody Zeller out of Indiana with the fourth overall pick in 2013 knowing that he needed time before he became a factor for their team. Now entering his fourth season in the NBA, he is slotted as the Hornets’ starting center. When the Hornets decided to let Al Jefferson, a “throwback” center who plays best when his back is to the basket and can carve the block up, Zeller knew it was his time to shine.

Zeller fully understood he needed to add muscle and increase his weight now that he is the full-time starting center. Zeller has said he has gained ten pounds since the end of last season. The 7’0”big man is athletic and could shoot the ball decently well since he is a natural power forward. Zeller is coming off a career year in which he averaged 8.7 points, 6.2 rebounds per game and shot 52.9% from the field and 74.5% from the charity strike.

Zeller will always be naturally lighter than his fellow Eastern Conference centers such as Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford, and Jonas Valanciunas, but now he is putting himself in a better position to fight in the post against these natural centers. Zeller has to take the next step forward in his development as a starting center for the Hornets to succeed next season.

Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb is in a great position to succeed with the Hornets this season. Coming off a season where he posted a career high with 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds per game and a 45.1% field goal percentage, Lamb must emerge as a 6th man off the bench type player for Steve Clifford. Even if first-year Hornet Marco Belinelli might be ahead of him on the depth chart, Lamb isn’t allowing that to take away from his focus.

Lamb learned that succeed in the NBA he needs to go about his business like a professional and not a kid anymore. He referred to last season as his first full season for the Hornets, referencing his commitment to sleeping well, working out properly, and eating right to his success.

Lamb says he is committed to bringing energy every night and understands he will have to fight for his minutes. If Steve Clifford can bring Lamb into the game as a player who can score quickly off the bench, he might move up the pecking order on the bench real fast. Lamb needs to emerge as an “instant offense” player off the bench, similar to J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford.

Frank Kaminsky III

With Zeller given the opportunity to become the full-time center, Frank Kaminsky could be one of the first players off the bench for the Hornets. Spencer Hawes is also on this roster, but at this point is a journeyman who is good in portions. Frank the Tank was drafted high to produce, showing his potential averaging 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds on 41% shooting in 21 minutes per game.

The Hornets will probably allot Kaminsky the same minutes or perhaps increase them a little. Clifford has shown he has faith in Kaminsky, starting him in Games 3-7 against the Miami Heat. Kaminsky needs to emerge from a high drafted rookie getting a feel for the NBA to a reliable big man off the bench and at time a spot starter.

The Hornets success will vastly rely on their commitment to defense and the leadership of Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. Walker and Batum cannot carry the team by themselves. Cody Zeller needs to emerge as a reliable starting center, Lamb as a consistent offensive threat off the bench, and Kaminsky a quality big man off the bench.