The Buzz about Buzz City
The Hornets are currently sitting at the 6th seed in the East at 14-13. They were the 3rd seed a week ago, but have slowed down a bit from their hot start. However, I still believe that the Hornets will be a top seed in the playoffs. They were predicted to 6th or 7th, but I can easily see them snagging the 3rd or 4th seed. Now we are only 27 games into the season, but they have been impressive so far. What’s changed from last season? Why are they so good so far? Well let me tell you.
First of all they let Al Jefferson go, which opened up the paint for Kemba Walker to create shots for others. Nicolas Batum is on the border of getting a triple double almost every game it seems. The health of Marvin Williams is a concern, but with him healthy, and MKG running around their small ball lineup is very effective. The addition of Marco Belinelli is helping them off the bench. And Steve Clifford is doing a great job of forming this team into a contender.
Then there is one of the most important factors for the Hornets growth…
KEMBA IS GROWN.
The man now owns the record for best PPG in November for the Hornets, and his offensive leadership is really showing on this team. He should be an All-Star this year if the Hornets keep up this pace. And I believe they will. Let’s take a look at some of his numbers.
These are his current numbers compared to his career numbers.(courtesy of Basketball Reference). A huge number that should stand out to you is the 3-point percentage. He is shooting his career best 41.2% from the three point line this year, and a career highest three point attempts this year. He does need to improve his free throw shooting, but I’m sure that will balance out by the end of the year.
What’s really different is that, so far, they have found what works for them. They are able to play fast. Use their shooters to spread the floor and let their playmakers go to work. Watching them play against the Cavs, I still saw a lot of positives from that game. Even though they were down for most of the game, I saw Batum making plays and being just a great fit with this team. I saw players like Ramon Sessions and Belinelli playing good off the bench. MKG is continuing to grow into a solid player for them. Kemba might be inching closer to a Kyrie level and you could make an argument for him being fastest player in the league (or at least that’s what it looks like when I see him dribble right into the paint). Even the big guys for the Hornets played okay. I wish Frank Kaminsky would’ve grown a little more in the past year, but I still have hope for the Wisconsin big man.
Where the Hornets are thriving is on Defense. Their offensive rating is 105.9 which is 18th in the league, so not bad, but that’s certainly not going to carry you through the playoffs. What will carry this team, and the reason I believe they can be a 3rd or 4th seed is their 5th overall defensive ranking of 104.4. Steve Clifford has done a great job of transforming this young team into an amazing defense and I hope they can keep it up. If they do, I can easily see Clifford in the talks for Coach of the Year.
I think as long as they continue to dominate on defense and spread the floor on offense, they will be a problem come playoff time. Although the Cavs seemed to easily deliver them a loss easily a few days ago, you never know what could happen in the playoffs, especially with a clutch player like Mr. Kemba Walker on your team.