The Charlotte Hornets are over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season when they finished 43-39. With a 25-point victory over the hapless 76ers. The Hornets now find themselves at 8-7 to begin the 2015 season. It’s been the most entertaining basketball that the Queen City has seen of late. And the franchise’s emerging newcomers have something to do with it.
The front office and GM Rich Cho were busy this off-season trying to improve their bench production and three-point shooting. They were able to pull off some savvy trades to do just what they set out to do. Charlotte was able to acquire Nicolas Batum, who moderately became a cast-off in Portland being surrounded by their stars. Batum has taken over into an expanded role with the Hornets, averaging 17.1 points, 3.8 assists and 6 rebounds per game; a stat sheet stuffer thus far in 2015. It’s been 15 games into the season, but for now the move from Portland to Charlotte has worked out the best way possible for the french native. Another guy the team was able to acquire was Jeremy Lamb, who had been determined as the odd man out in Oklahoma City. Since becoming a Hornet, he has displayed a jolt of energy as one the team’s best spot-up shooters (53 percent from the field) as well as creating a presence at the offensive end of the floor.
Currently averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench; he’s proving the Hornets were right again in making this move. Lamb’s good play was rewarded with a three-year, $21 million contract extension that at this point looks like a steal. The Hornets have done an amazing job finding great NBA talent that other teams have forgotten about.
In addition to discovering a resurgent Lamb. Charlotte has been granted with two indispensable glue guys off the bench–in Jeremy Lin and Spencer Hawes. Hawes, who previously was shuffled in the back-end of the Clippers’ rotation a season ago, has inserted his presence vitally on the boards (4 RBG). Jeremy Lin has always possessed a great court awareness, whether it’s been his days as a Laker or Knick, Lin’s best attribute is seeing the floor. That’s exactly what he’s accounted for with Charlotte already. Lin’s showcase of dribble-penetration and beating teams while running the pick-and-roll has allowed Kemba Walker to play more off-the-ball, that’s spawned more offensive production than previous years. He is also putting up solid numbers averaging 11.8 points per game to go along with 3 assists and 2.8 rebounds shaping the Hornets into one of the best benches in the league.
The newcomers have created a myriad of options for coach Steve Clifford to choose from. Simply if one lineup or another isn’t working. Clifford can off-set it with a different rotation. With Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson having a great cast around to work with, taking the pressure off of those guys games to shine so far has been a luxury to have.
Through nearly one month into the season, the best part about this team’s success is its effort every night and there’s always someone new making an impact on the game. It’s crystal clear that Charlotte’s front office went into this off-season with a plan and it’s paying off big time.