Is there a more fan-ghetto franchise in all of the NBA than the Charlotte Hornets? Besides Sacramento and Memphis, what other city has an NBA team that attracts less notice from literally every other fanbase in the entire league plus the generic NBA fan?
Since changing their name back from the Bobcats, the Not Cats have gone 33-49, 48-34, 36-46, and then 36-46 again.
They are the definition of Mediocrity Hell. They haven’t won a playoff series in their revived-in-Charlotte franchise history since the Bobcats were expanded into existence in 2004. They’ve had only three winning seasons in 14 tries.
Put simply, they’re the least interesting franchise in sports, rarely bad enough to tank, never good enough to contend.
And we’re supposed to try and determine if they’re worthy of a 35.5 over/under, which they’d clear just by putting up the same garbage 36-46 record for a third straight year.
Well…let’s go, I guess…
2017-18 record: 36-46
2018-19 over/under: 35.5
New Year, Same Great Mediocre Kemba Taste
I am not here for the Kemba Walker stans.
Walker has been in the league since he was a rookie on that seven-win garbage fire in 2012. He is 3-8 in the playoffs in two appearances.
He reminds me of pre-LeBron Kyrie Irving but without ever having made the leap to genuine star.
He’s a good-but-not-great shooter (41.5/35.8/83.4 splits for his career, and quite-improved over the past three years), a minus defender, a passer of no particular renown (with assist rates routinely below 30 percent), an inept finisher at the rim when he does get penetration, and…well, on the upside, he’s had a +10 or better net rating on-off split the past couple of years, so his minutes have been the difference between “decent” and “completely putrid” for his team.
He’s got a minus-1.4 on-court net rating for his career, but that’s not really fair since the stink of 2012 and ’13 will be on his stat sheet forever. Recently, he’s been more of a +3 net rating guy, but if your star player is a plus-3, you are at best…well, a 36-win team.
But let’s please just bury the narrative once and for all that Kemba Walker is an All-Star. He isn’t. Especially in an Eastern Conference that includes the likes of Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Ben Simmons, and even Goran Dragic.
Tastes Great! Less Dwight Howard!
Any time you can get Dwight Howard off your team, your chemistry is going to get better.
Any time you can get Dwight Howard off your team, your rebounding rate is going to take a giant dump on itself.
Let’s move on.
Who the Crap Is James Borrego?
Well, he’s the new head coach of the Hornets, replacing Steve Clifford, who has been sentenced to the agony booth in Orlando.
Borrego owns a 10-20 record in the head man’s chair, a record he compiled as the interim coach in Orlando after Jacque Vaughn‘s ouster; the Magic went 25-57 overall that year.
Borrego was an assistant in San Antonio for three years, where he learned how to Popovich, but that’s a coaching tree that includes Brett Brown and (no relation) Mike Brown, along with Mike Budenholzer, who isn’t exactly Red Auerbach out there.
So…untested coach with lousy roster. Check and check.
Seriously, Who Even Are These Guys?
Oft-injured Nic Batum, Bismack Biyombo, the ageless Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s Jump Shot, a washed-up Tony Parker…ye gods. This team may as well be the 2012 Bobcats on paper, but at least Walker’s not a complete washout of a rookie this time.
Are the Charlotte Hornets good? No.
Are they as good as they’ve been each of the past two years, where they sucked but they won 36 games? Also no.
Are they winning 36 games again? No.
So the over-under is 35.5 and they’re going under it. Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. Busted.