Record: 36-46 (11th in the East)
Season Ended: No Playoffs
Malik Monk (SG), Dwayne Bacon (SG/SF)
Michael Carter-Williams (PG)
Dwight Howard (C)
Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee
Projected Starters (Last year averages)
PG: Kemba Walker (23 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast)
SG: Nicolas Batum (15 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast)
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (9 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast)
PF: Marvin Williams (11 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast)
C: Dwight Howard (14 pts, 13 reb, 1 ast)
Jeremy Lamb (SG/SF), Frank Kaminsky (PF/C), Cody Zeller (C), Malik Monk (PG/SG)
Major Story lines
Dwight Howard Addition – After the Big Al era ended the Hornets have tried to hold down the paint with Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky but they pulled off a trade to bring in Dwight Howard this offseason while keeping both Frank and Cody so now they are extremely deep in the post. With Cody and Dwight having injury histories this will be a key for them in remaining consistent this year. Dwight will be needed primarily as a rebounder as this has been a weakness for the team since Kemba arrived.
Malik Monk Drafted – After a few “blown” draft picks (Kaminsky, Zeller, and MKG have all been serviceable but they aren’t sexy) the Hornets finally grabbed an exciting prospect. From what we’ve seen in the pre-season Monk is ready to get buckets right away and with Batum missing at least a month and a half, he’ll be needed to step up from day 1.
*New* Nic Batum Injury – A new development for the Hornets, Nic Batum tore a ligament in his elbow and will miss at least 6 weeks as he recovers. With Batum being a major ball handler for the team and a 15 ppg scorer last year his absence will be felt. Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk will look to make up for his absence.
Mike Predictions (41 – 41) (7th in the East)
- Depth makes them Dangerous – Though I have the Hornets finishing 7th I don’t think their record will reflect how good the team can be at full strength. Already dealing with injuries and having several players with injury histories I brought their record down from what it could be. As a defensive minded team with an All-Star point guard, a rim protector now in Dwight and two stretch 4’s in Marvin and Kaminsky I do think this team can be dangerous. Don’t be surprised to see them stealing games from the top teams in the league.
- Monk 1st Team All Rookie – As I mentioned Malik Monk is primed to get buckets on day 1 and with Batum out and Lamb stepping into the starting lineup he will start the season as the primary scorer off of the bench. I compared him in my scouting report to Jamal Crawford and think that his scoring bursts off of the bench make him an easy choice for the All Rookie 1st team despite stiff competition.
Josh Predictions (43-39) (7th in the East)
- Kemba Walker makes his 2nd All-Star Game – Even though they’ll be without Nic Batum for the first few months of the season, I think the additions of Malik Monk and Dwight Howard get Kemba some solid new weapons to help bolster his assist numbers. And let’s face it, he’s always going to get points. That, plus having the benefit of being in a weaker Eastern conference, has me thinking Kemba goes back to the ASG for the second straight year.
- Dwight Howard makes his 9th All-Star Game – Ok full disclosure, I’m a Hornets fan and I first saw this prediction on Swarm and Sting a few months ago. But I think it’s got some merit. Here’s why: First, Dwight is reunited with Steve Clifford, who was an assistant coach in Orlando from 2007-2012, arguably Howard’s best years. He might be able to re-inspire the “Superman” version of Dwight that helped him make the NBA finals. Also, Dwight is now playing alongside an All Star player who can compliment his strengths. Kemba Walker is nearly unstoppable in the pick and roll and can help get Dwight a lot of easy buckets down low. Also 4 of the Eastern Conference All Stars from last season now play in the West. That means there are open spots for guys like Howard who have a ton of name recognition around the league and just need to put up numbers on a winning team to get voted in. I think it could happen.
- Malik Monk All Rookie 1st Team – Yeah, exactly what Mike said above. I’m just repeating it for good luck!