Coming off a playoff appearance, the Charlotte
Bobcats Hornets are ready to show the world 2013-14 wasn’t a fluke. Already a top-ten defense, if they can improve their offense, the Al Jefferson-led Hornets have a chance to sneak into the top five or six best teams in the Eastern Conference.
And how will they go about that? Via the NBA draft. According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observers says the Hornets may take two wings with their two first round draft picks.
The Bobcats had one 3-point shooter in the league rankings, with Anthony Tolliver 13th at 43.3 percent. However, Tolliver’s difficulty guarding small, quick forwards meant he played only 20 minutes a game.
The Bobcats tried to address this situation at the trade deadline by acquiring Gary Neal from the Milwaukee Bucks. Neal helped, averaging 11.2 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, and he’s under contract for next season. However the Hornets need more.
It seems almost inevitable the Hornets will use one, if not both, their first-round picks to upgrade their wing shooting. Three viable candidates for the ninth pick – Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Michigan State’s Gary Harris and Michigan’s Nik Stauskas – all shot 40 percent or better from the college 3-point line last season.
Outside of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, the Hornets offense was hit or miss, finishing with the 24th best offensive rating in the NBA this past season at 101.2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was never meant to be relied on offensively this early in his career-and possibly for the entire bulk of his career-and the rest of the pieces weren’t consistently productive.
This want to fill the wing position with shooters also may be the end of the Gerald Henderson-era. Henderson is a productive player. Last season he averaged 14 points on 43 percent shooting, but by inserting a better floor-spacer, it gives the other four players more room to operate on offense, especially the teams offensive crutch in Al Jefferson. Owed $12 million over the next two seasons, the final season a player option, it’s hard to see the Hornets moving a marginal shooting guard, so a move to bolster the reserve unit may be in store.
With their latter first round pick, the 24th pick to be exact, they’ll be allowed to fill another need. There’s also the possibility that Charlotte could package this pick and Henderson to clear space for an immediate impact player.
For the first time since the Gerald Wallace-Stephen Jackson era, the future looks bright for the HornCats. Michael Jordan is finally getting this show on the road.