All looked bright in Charlotte at the start of the season. Kemba Walker-Lance Stephenson-Al Jefferson looked to be a scary Big-3 in the Eastern Conference. Coming off a playoff birth last season with a weak Eastern Conference, they looked to be a lock in the playoffs. Charlotte fell under expectation and didn’t make the playoffs. Throughout the season it seemed one of the Big-3 stars stars was always out of the lineup. Now they enter the offseason with the fear of Al Jefferson opting out of his contract with no other true star on the roster. The Hornets are desperate for another big man and a shooter. Lets see who could be on the Hornets next season.
To be traded
The Lance Stephenson project in Charlotte has failed horribly. He was expected to be the number one scoring option and only averaged 8.2 points per game. No one was pleased with his performance. He only played in 61 games this season and only started in 25 of them. It has come to the point where if Stephenson wants to continue his NBA career, it needs to be in another city. He has aggravated everyone in Charlotte and I would be shocked if he wasn’t traded.
Possible landing spots: New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Portland Trail Blazers
Al Jefferson is the best player on the Hornets roster and has the option to opt out of his current contract with the team. He is currently making $13 million dollars and is looking for a bigger yearly salary. He is the reason the Hornets have been relevant over the last two seasons. When healthy he is one of the best centers in basketball. The concern is he has only played a full season twice in his career. The Hornets would love to keep him, but is he worth the money when he can’t play a full season? He still has to decide if he will opt out or not.
If LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving weren’t on the Cleveland Cavaliers, people would realize how effective Tristan Thompson is. He has played in all 82 games but only start in 15 of them. He averaged 8.5 points and 8 rebounds per game and was either the second rebounder or fourth scoring option every time on the court. He rejected a contract extension by the Cavs which leads me to believe he is leaving. He could prove he is an above average player with the touches he will get if he was in Charlotte.
The Charlotte Hornets need to find another shooting guard. Lance Stephenson has a low trade value and won’t bring back another star in return. Monta Ellis is a much better shooting guard then Lance Stephenson. He las the right to opt out of his current contract in Dallas and looks to be leaving. He is averaging 18.9 points per game on a Mavericks team loaded with talent. Ellis has always been an elite scorer and Charlotte needs a true scorer. With a poor Eastern Conference, Ellis could put the Hornets in the playoffs.
Willy Cauley-Stein would be the perfect player to play next to Al Jefferson (If he stays). He is a long defender who can cover the perimeter. He is a great rebounder and is always blocking shots. Cauley-Stein is the best defensive prospect in this draft and will make a defensive impact immediately. His defensive presence is moving him up the draft board. He needs someone to play next to him in the paint. If Al signs somewhere else, they need another big man instantly.
Myles Turner is a project with a high ceiling. One thing that separates Turner from other big man is that he is efficient at the free throw line. He will draw tons of fouls in the NBA. He is also great in the pick and roll offense. Consistency killed him on college. When he was hot Texas looked unstoppable. But Texas struggled when he was cold and they lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a ten seed. If he finds consistency he is no longer a project. Noah Vonleh and Myles Turner makes for an interesting future.
This will be a season to forget for the Hornets. The injury bug crawled around the locker room all season and the Hornets lacked consistency. The Hornets ranked 29th in FG percentage and 30th in 3-point percentage over this past season. Michael Jordan could start on this roster and he is in his 52. There hasn’t been a stellar team in Charlotte for years and they are working extremely hard to change that image. It would be great for the NBA if a low market franchise was able to be consistently successful.