When the Pelicans and Hornets face off, it always feels like a family member is coming to town. Sharing part of a fan base and a team name for periods due to league expansion, New Orleans and Charlotte are distant cousins — I often think of that double Spider-Man meme where they’re both at a stand off pointing at each other.
Throw in a few draft failures, regrettable free agent signings, and inconsistent play, you have two teams that have mirrored each other all too often.
For a further look at the Hornets before today’s matchup we were able to catch up with our guy Laieke Abebe (better know as Strika24) from “At The Hive” with the SB Nation family. Be sure to follow Strika on Twitter @StrikaNation24_. Hope you enjoy our second installment of Outsiders Perspective!
1. There’s an argument to be made that no modern NBA Franchise knows homegrown superstar trade rumors and speculation better than the New Orleans Pelicans. The Charlotte Hornets, however, have their own conundrum at hand with their superstar, Kemba Walker.
The trade rumors have been rapid for some time. What’s your opinion on homegrown stars? Do they mean what they once did? What do you think the future of Kemba Walker is in Charlotte? Any advice for Pels fans dreading the possibility of a Anthony Davis departure?
I personally hope that Kemba Walker is a Hornet for life. With that being said, I wouldn’t blame him if he decided to leave in free agency or the team trades him. Because of how well he’s played, he will likely command a super maximum contract extension. However, the team is in salary cap hell for the next few seasons because of the summer of 2016 — which constantly gives me nightmares.
Homegrown stars are becoming a lost art in the NBA due to the lack of loyalty in both players as a whole and people working in the front office. I definitely understand how Pels fans feel about all the trade rumors. My mentions get flooded with stupid trade machine scenarios every time the Hornets lose. It gets annoying, but winning does heal all wounds.
2. Speaking of Kemba, he’s been fantastic this year! He’s currently averaging career highs in points per game, assists, field goal and three point percentage while attempting the highest volume of shots in his eight-year career. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg concerning improvements this season.
Kemba no longer just looks “really good” — he looks like a legit superstar. I always thought Walker was a middle class man’s Kyrie Irving. He has completely turned that comparison upside down. What has Walker added to his game that has pushed him to reach this level of production? Anything different around him that is contributing to a career-best impact? Can he sustain this level of play?
Most fans don’t remember, but Kemba wasn’t a consistent outside shooter until a couple of seasons ago. He is proof that even when a player is older, they can still improve their game to become even better.
At times, he is the sole reason why the Hornets are even some what competitive in games. He is the heart and soul of a city and a state that deserves a winner in professional sports.
Kemba has gotten the reputation of being the go-to guy in clutch time situations and rightfully so. He is the offense and has been that almost every night for the last few seasons. Hopefully, the Hornets can find a way to get production players like Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk so that he can have adequate help.
People have been saying “Free Kemba” as in “get Kemba out of Charlotte because he doesn’t deserve this misery” and I get that. Instead, I feel “Free Kemba” should mean “bring someone into Charlotte thats capable of helping this guy.”
3. There was a time where it was a legit question as to who should be the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. After winning a national championship at Kentucky together Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were pitted against each other in regards to who would be the better pro.
While Davis has since become a bonafide superstar, MKG has struggled with injuries and offensive development at the next level. His contributions, however, are vastly underrated and he’s a better player than most will admit. Talk a little about MKG, where his game has navigated, and if there’s a future for him in Charlotte for years to come.
Anthony Davis should be a Charlotte Hornet, but thats a story for another day. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has embraced his role off the bench quite nicely. He gives a lot of effort defensively and has tough assignments every night. Obviously, the casual NBA fan knows that MKG isn’t the greatest jump shooter. This season, however, has been slightly different at least in the early going.
MKG entered this season with only seven made three pointers in his entire career. Through 22 games, he’s already made four triples. It isn’t much but the fact that he’s actually making some of these shots is unreal. Head coach James Borrego’s offense encourages a lot of outside shots. If MKG could just make a defense honest by making a three or two per game, it would really help this team.
4. What’s the biggest misconception about the Charlotte Hornets?
People are going to look at this team’s record through 22 games and say, “well, at least they’re in the playoff standings.” The truth is, the Hornets should be in a better position than the one they’re currently in. This team looked so good in defeating a talented Boston Celtics team. However, this team has losses to the entire bottom three of the Eastern Conference (Bulls, Cavaliers, Hawks).
Continuing to be inept in close games will eventually ruin any playoff aspirations for this team if they don’t get it together. The team has to be more consistent from night to night. Another thing is that there are players that are playing better than their numbers suggest.
Shockingly, Tony Parker has been solid as the backup point guard, a position that has been lacking since Jeremy Lin left. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has done very well off the bench and Jeremy Lamb has emerged as the second scoring option alongside Kemba Walker.
5. Outside perspective on the Pelicans.
The Pelicans have such a talented team and are capable of making the postseason once again led by Anthony Davis. Jrue Holiday has lived up to the big contract that he was given a few seasons ago. Signing Julius Randle was such an underrated move and he’s proven to be a big addition. Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore have provided a lot of scoring.
However, there have been a lot of questionable results, especially recently. While Davis has been banged up for some of those games, losing to teams like the New York Knicks won’t help in a tough West. There is still plenty of season left to make a good run, but it will have to start on the defensive end. These next few weeks will be big for their season outlook.
Darius Miller is the random bench player that will doom the Hornets. Pelicans win 121-117 in overtime.
(If only Strika knew the irony in his prediction.)
That’s all the time we had with Strika. Hope you enjoyed our second installment of Outsider’s Perspective and be on the lookout for more. Geaux Pels!