Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard pairing puts team in top 3 in East
The Charlotte Hornets said they have suffered enough. Michael Jordan is tired of the losing as is Kemba Walker. The Hornets just made one of their biggest trades in team’s history when they acquired the services of Dwight Howard earlier this week. What this does is put the Hornets in prime position to challenge the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
Gone are the days of Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Alonzo Mourning. The team has gone through many facelifts over the years and now the weight of the franchise has fallen on the shoulders of Walker. In Walker’s 5 yrs with the Hornets, the team has made the playoffs just twice. However, coming off his first All-Star appearance, Kemba is ready to take the Hornets to new heights.
Howard is the enigma here.
What version will the Hornets get will decide if they continue to hover around the 30-35 win mark or possibly reach for that 45-50 goal. If motivated, Howard could easily become the player he was with the Orlando Magic before the bottom fell out. Last season with the Atlanta Hawks, Howard averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds on 8 shots per game whereas the frontcourt starters for the Hornets averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds while taking a combined 16 shots per game.
Howard is clearly an upgrade and not only does his presence make them a better defensive team it also makes them one of the strongest in terms of bench production. With Howard now penciled in as the starting Center, that will force Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller to the second unit.
The Dwight Howard trade wasn’t the Hornets only bright spot this week. In the NBA Draft, they added sharp-shooting Malik Monk which should push Kidd-Gilchrist to the bench and Nicolas Batum to the starting SF spot giving the Hornets one of the best trios of perimeter players in the NBA. If Howard can come in and provide the Hornets with his usual stats on the defensive and rebounding side– it will put the Hornets in a position to be a feared team, not only in the halfcourt setting but fastbreak as well.
With Howard rebounding, it will allow Walker, Batum, and Monk to get out, the leaving defenders in panic mode. Walker was scary enough, now you add in the shooting of Batum and Monk and this offense becomes Golden State Warriors-like. The Hornets took criticism for making a trade for a player many believe is past his prime. But Howard is only 31, with plenty of gas left in the tank and what valuable assets did the Hornets actually give up?
Their team was not depleted like the New York Knicks when they acquired Carmelo Anthony. If anything, they robbed the Hawks. The Hornets, at least on paper have improved. The rest is up to Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard.