Michael Jordan. Best player ever. Basketball, not baseball. There is no debating that. As an owner, though? I'll generously give him an "incomplete". This is the guy who drafted Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison, and who hasn't done nearly enough to make us forget that just yet. He's also the guy who led his team to a 7-59 record in 2012. The squad will be much better than that this year. But will they do enough to be relevant? They took a big step last year, winning 48 games, making the playoffs, and taking Miami to the seventh game of the first round. There was a lot to build on there, but this team has struggled to build on anything since well before Jordan got to town.
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2016 Charlotte Hornets Betting Storylines
Head coach Steve Clifford and I share a birthday. That's not why I think he's a solid coach, though - or at least not the only reason. He's a strong defensive coach, and he has done a good job with this team. He's an asset heading into his fourth season in Charlotte. He has a solid core to work with here, too. Kemba Walker is the best player on the team, and he has emerged as a top point guard. He scores himself and provides plenty of opportunities for others to do so as well. He's all-star caliber. He has strong chemistry with Nicolas Batum as well, and the two do a very good job of creating space for each other. This team doesn't work nearly as well as it does without the two of them working together. That's a backcourt to build on and one that Clifford has shown real ability to scheme with effectively.
Complementing them, and carrying a massive burden for the success of the team this year, is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He missed all but seven games last year, but when he is healthy as he is right now he is one of the better defensive players in the league. This is a team that was Top 10 defensively last year, and they have a chance to be better than that with Kidd-Gilchrist at full strength - if he can stay that way. Marvin Williams has never neared his massive potential out of college, but he is playing as well as he ever has right now and is a decent power forward - though his allergy to rebounding is frustrating. And Cody Zeller is an underrated center - far from flashy but a nicely efficient pick and roll partner for guards and a solid defender.
2016 Charlotte Hornets Additions and Departures
So, the core is decent - not world-class, but fine. The depth was a concern last year, though, and it remains that way. Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson both headed to greener pastures in the offseason, and both will be missed - Jefferson much more than Lin. To fill the guard gap they added Ramon Sessions, who was arguably better than Lin last year anyway. I like that move. Roy Hibbert was brought in from the Lakers as well, and the hope is that he and Frank Kaminsky, the second-year player who was mostly a disaster as a rookie, can combine to be a better than competent player. Hibbert is a good boost defensively and fits the system here well as a result. Those two positive moves were offset by one far harder to like. Marco Belinelli was acquired from the Spurs for the rights to the 22nd pick in the draft. Malachi Richardson. The 30 year old, was at his best with the Spurs, isn't coming off a very good year, and it's tough to see how he delivers value for the price paid. Beyond that they added a few depth pieces who will fight for a roster spot, with undrafted Washington guard Andrew Andrews the most interesting.
2016 Charlotte Hornets Futures Odds and Trends
There was no long-term money to be made betting on the Hornets last year. They were 42-39-1 ATS, so they were basically a break-even team. They went "over" the total in 40 games and "under" in 40 as well. In their one playoff series they were 3-4 ATS, but you could make money on the under - they only went over twice in seven games.
Charlotte Hornets Futures Odds
NBA title odds : +30000
Eastern Conference title odds : +10000
Season win total (from Westgate): 39.5
2016 Charlotte Hornets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
The Southeast Division isn't great right now. All five teams have potential, but all have issues as well. If you wanted to argue that the Hornets were going to ride their core to a win in the division, I wouldn't argue too much. If you wanted to argue that they would take a step back because the lack of depth would become an issue, and their vulnerability to injuries in the backcourt would haunt them, then I wouldn't argue, either. They could very easily be a playoff team. Or they could finish 12th in the conference. Things are fluid - and not because of uncertainty about them so much as the potential that other teams at their best would just be better. If forced to pick I would peg them as a team that grabs a low playoff spot and gets knocked out in the first round. So, basically what they did last year - though perhaps with a couple fewer wins than their 48 last year.
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