After yet again another forgettable season that saw a mere 33 total wins, the Charlotte Hornets showed signs of life this preseason, finishing with a 7-1 record. The front office has been clear with their intentions to win now, having made the postseason just twice since 2002.
Free agent acquisition Jeremy Lin and No. 9 overall selection Frank Kaminsky have been pleasant surprises with their production through the preseason, having even outplayed the projected starters at some points. One of the Hornets most dangerous line-ups feature the 1-2 punch of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, giving head coach Steve Clifford some flexibility with his rotations. The lead guard position is the Hornets’ deepest by far and while Lin’s stellar play likely won’t win him the starting job, look for his strong play through November to put him as an early favorite for 6th man of the Year.
The most intriguing storyline to follow for this Hornets’ squad in this first month of action will be the rejuvenated play of Nicolas Batum. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sidelined until at least April with a shoulder injury, Batum is set to play a more important role than ever. Batum gives this team that true veteran presence with a winning attitude that this inexperienced team desperately needs. For the 26-year old, the November 15th match-up against the Portland Trailblazers will be an emotional one. The competition will be played at the Time Warner Cable Arena in North Carolina against his former team, which appears to be heading in the opposite direction.
Through October/November, the Charlotte Hornets are scheduled to play a grand total of 17 games. In particular, a key stretch to pay attention to if you’re a Hornet fan will be a 7-game home stretch starting on November 18th with no back-to-backs. Through this two week period, the Hornets play host to the Nets, 76ers, Kings, Wizards, Cavs, and Bucks before ending the home stand off against the Warriors.
One X-Factor who is poised for a breakout season is Jeremy Lamb, who was recently acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 23-year old guard boasts a 6’11” wingspan and is a deadeye from beyond the arc. If he can put all of his tools to good use this season, we could be looking at a candidate for Most Improved Player. This team has a number of supporting pieces that can make them competitive, however ultimately, this Charlotte Hornets will only go as far as its corner piece, Al Jefferson, will take it.
Courtesy of Bleacher Report