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The Charlotte Hornets X-Factor

The Charlotte Hornets capped their 2015-16 season as the Eastern Conference's sixth seed. Their rather impressive 48-34 record was showcased against the three seeded Miami Heat. After losing two straight games, the team would go on to win three straight by decent margins. Miami would eventually close out Charlotte's 2015-16 campaign with wins in games 6 and 7. Their overall performance was attested to key play from top players and a well-balanced bench contribution. With the 2016-17 less than a week away, Charlotte looks to tough it out in hopes of a similar record with a better post-season run.
The team does not lack the talent to repeat as a high-seeded contender in the East. They lost a few key contributors to free agency and budget cuts, but their wounds were quick to be healed with some crucial component signings. A few of the big losses that may hurt the team include Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin. "Big Al" had a rather lackluster season due to an injury prone body. Once he was deemed healthy, his performance was a large part in Charlotte's scheme of upfront play. Lee and Lin presented the team with additional go-to options on offense and defense. Lee was a lockdown defender that played well on both ends of the court. Lin presented a huge relief component to the Kemba Walker show. Lin also showcased his leadership skills when Walker was off the court or injured. The team was quick to replace these players with lesser-named options that could still contribute to the team's overall goals.
The team was quick to add a few point guard options in Brian Roberts and Ramon Sessions. Both are veteran guards that can fill the sixth man position when called on. They are also seasoned court generals that will add to unity in bench play when the stars are off the court. The team also added Roy Hibbert and Marco Belinelli. Hibbert has been a journeyman over the course of his career. He has found some locations where his skill set fit nicely and others where he couldn't seem to contribute at an effective rate. The move to Charlotte will hopefully bring out the best in Hibbert as he has a few years of playing left. Belinelli was a nice add for additional guard relief. He is a player that adds good ball control with a game play that is beneficial to any offensive attack. His efforts will be needed to help Charlotte's overall cause.
The team kept most of their star players in Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Each one of these players averages a high amount of court time each night the team competes. Adding new options will take a load off of these player's shoulders, but their talents must be highly featured. The X-Factor on the team is Kemba Walker. Walker had one of his most proficient seasons last year. His turnover ratio was down, his points per game and assists per game were up and he remained quite healthy when compared against his other seasons. His leadership at the point guard position is the major component that keeps this team's game fluent. He will have to rely on his scoring abilities and balance it with the game play we expect from 'true' point guards. When he finds his balance, there is no stopping this individual gamer. His passion for the game remains high and he is ready to lead this team to another successful season in 2016-17.


    Oct 26 2016 08:38 AM

    Yes, let's hope that last year's Kemba was for real, and lasting. 


    That said, I think the biggest swing could come from Frank Kaminsky. I don't see aging Marvin Williams duplicating his great season from last year, a contract season. Injuries are a concern. Frank is the only other "true 4" of proven NBA quality...(Yes, Nic or MKG could slide over there some)..... Is Frank a nice little rotation piece, or is he a legit second/third scoring option ? Let's see what kind of leap he makes in year 2. 


    And of course, there's always MKG's health as an x-factor.