The Charlotte Hornets are currently 4-15, playing far worse than anybody expected. The expectations put on this team weren’t terribly high, but they weren’t low, either. Most basketball analysts including myself expected this team to be a threat to win an opening round playoff series, which is why this 4-15 start has all of us scratching our heads and asking “What is going on with this team?”.
One might point to the fact that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Noah Vonleh, and Gary Neal have been injured, but that doesn’t explain such a poor start. What explains their poor start is that their “money players” haven’t stepped up.
Al Jefferson is averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, so he is doing his part, but the other three main players on this team (Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson, and Kemba Walker) have all played well below their expectations. Kemba Walker is scoring only 14 points per game, which just won’t cut it for a guy who is supposed to be the #2 player on this team.
As for Lance Stephenson, his 9.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest is beyond disappointing for a guy who signed a three-year, $27M contract. Stephenson was supposed to be the #3 option on this team who would change them from a playoff pretender to a playoff contender. He has instead done nothing but disappoint and leave Charlotte fans wondering if he was really worth the money or if he was just a good system player in Indiana.
Gerald Henderson, who averaged 14 points per game last year, is averaging only 6.8 points per game while also producing fewer rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. His drop off has been staggering and nothing short of alarming. Out of all the players who have been struggling, his struggles seem to be the most perplexing.
Whatever the problem is, whether it’s Lance Stephenson failing to deliver or Kemba Walker not playing like a legit #2 option, the Hornets have to change something and make a move to energize themselves. The return of the nickname “Hornets” has energized this city, but it looks like more needs to be done to make “Buzz City” a place where playoff teams don’t want to go.
—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord