TEAM HISTORY/LAST SEASON
|The Charlotte Hornets had their share of ups and downs in 1999, opening 4-11 under Dave Cowens. But after Cowens left the team
and new coach Paul Silas came
aboard, the team rebounded to finish 26-24 and almost sneak into the playoffs. Not bad
considering this team was considered one of the worst in the NBA saddled with aging
veterans and malcontents. The mid season trade of Glen Rice, JR Reid and BJ Armstrong to Los Angeles for Eddie Jones and Elden
Campbell improved the teams athleticism and gave them a much
needed prescence in the pivot. Campbell flourished in his role as starting center in
Charlotte, and should only get better with time. Moving from 13 to 3 in the draft was
another huge step in the right direction. Instead of adding a journeyman at number 13, the
Hornets now have a chance to pick up a bonafide superstar at #3. What appeared to be a
hopeless situation for a team which has been above .500 for the past 7 seasons, has
quickly changed to a team with some of the parts to be a power in a weak Eastern
Conference. What a difference a few months can make.
|The Hornets biggest need is an offensive weapon who can
create some excitement and get others involved in the scoring. The current team has
several players who can put up double digits consistently, but they cannot create thier
own shot. Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason,
Derrick Coleman and Elden
Campbell all can go for 25 on any given night, but most
likely will score 12-16 points.
depth is also a major priority with the club for 1999-2000. Losing Charles Shackleford,
Chucky Brown, and Chuck Person are not considered major losses by any means, but the club
would like to hang on to Brad Miller to back up Campbell in the pivot. Miller, an
undrafted FA in 1999, was a plesant surprise for the Hornets and provides toughness off
|David Wesley is a capable
point guard in the NBA, but he is not what the Hornets need to take them to the next level
in the Eastern Conference. Wesley averaged 14 points and six assists last season, but
cannot be expected to contribute much more. However, Wesley is a mature veteran, and his
presence would help the ease learning curve for a young point guard.
|Eddie Jones is a great
defensive player who energized the team after his arrival. Jones is also a premeir
defensive player and former all star who could blossom in Charlotte this season. Rookie Nick Davis played well considering he is only
19 years old, and showed flashes, pouring in 32 in the season finale vs Boston. 1999 FA
signee Eldridge Recasner was a
major disappointment, trying to fill the shoes of Dell Curry, scoring only 4 a game. He
must rebound next season if the Hornets are to be succesful.
|Bobby Phills was injured
for much of 1999, but when healthy he is a blanket defensively. Able to guard Eastern
Conference forward/guards like Steve Smith and Grant Hill, Phills contributions are not
overlooked. However Phills offensive skills are below average and this limits his overall
value to the club.
|Here is where it gets interesting. Anthony Mason is one of the most talented
players in the league, able to play point forward or down low. His physical low post game
is good, and his ball handling is superior for a player of his size. However Mason has
never been happy, and will never be happy. Will Silas be able to get thru to Mason? No one
else has, so I see no reason this should change. Nonetheless, Mason is an immense talent
who is in his FA season in 2000. Expect big things as Mason plays for a contract. Derrick Coleman is altogether another story.
Oft injured, the player Charles Barkey once called the most talented player in the NBA is
signed through 2003, and the Hornets must find a way to motivate the out of shape big man,
or deal him.
|Elden Campbell arrived from
Los Angeles and began to blossom. He had showed his ability to produce when playing for
the injured Shaquille ONeal, but disappeared when ONeal was healthy. Now the main low post
prescence in Charlotte, Campbell could average 18 points 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in 2000.
Retaining Brad Miller as a back
up for Campbell would help, or acquiring one thru the draft is an option as well. Coleman can move to the 5 when necessary
|The Hornets select Baron
Davis, guard, UCLA. Davis has an NBA body, and is possibly the most athleticly gifted
player in the draft. He can break anyone down off the dribble and is outstanding in the
open floor. A flashy finisher, Davis will electrify the Hive, and help create easy scoring
oppotunities for Campbell, Jones, Mason, and cast. Davis' defense is often overlooked due
to his great offensive skills, but he is a true stopper and played man-to-man exclusively
in college. People forget how well he shut down 1998 #2 overall pick Mike Bibby in each of their college matchups.
Davis will need to work on his propensity
to turn the ball over as well as his streaky jump shot. But that will come with time. Its
much easier to slow a player down, than it is to speed him up. Davis in time will learn
how to run a team, rather than always trying to be the team. His knee injury helped him
mature, and his game grew a bit as well last year, as he learned he didnt have to score 30
every night for his team to win. Davis is the type of athelete that this team needs
Hopefully Davis will have a long and prosperous career in
Charlotte, a team which no longer has many homegrown players. Former number one picks, Rex
Chapman, Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, JR Reid, Kobe Bryant (traded for
Vlade Divac) all are starring elsewhere. Davis is the type of player the Hornets can build
around...but havent we heard that before?
|Other players considered were Steve Francis of Maryland...another highlight film
player, but projects to a 2 in the NBA and with Wesley, Bobby Phills, Eddie Jones, and
Eldridge Recasner (along with Nick Davis) there is a long jam at the shooting guard and
small forward position on this team. Duke product Elton
Brand does not have the upside of Davis or Francis, and the team is ok with Mason,
Coleman and Campbell. Corey Magette is too raw for
this team. Point guards Jason Terry, Andre Miller and William
Avery all do one or two things very well, but Davis has the ability to do it ALL well.
A possible trade down with Toronto for 5 and 12, or with Cleveland 8 and 11, would allow
the Hornets to take one of the other point guards and possibly address the need in the
frontcourt with Shawn Marion or Evan Eschmeyer. But Davis is the selection here.
We believe that the team will fall victim to pressure of drafting
the next Michale and draft Steve Francis if he isnt taken at 1 or 2. Francis is an ACC
guy, will help fill the stands again at the Hive and the Hornets might be too scared not
to draft him.
If Chicago drafts Lamar
Odom, as expected and Vancouver drafts Francis,
Charlotte would choose between Wally Szczrebiak, Elton Brand and Baron
Davis. Fearing a "reach" with Davis, the Hornets will take the safe route
and draft Brand to replace Mason who is a free agent after next season.
OTHER OFF SEASON MOVES
|Other moves the team will make in the offseason are
attempting to work out a deal with Jones, who has one year left on a long term deal he
signed with the Lakers, possibly working out a deal with Mason (if he can get his act
together) and acquring a back up center via free agency to spell Campbell. Another scoring
threat off the bench is a priority as well, with Phills being a defense stopper only, and
Recasner a huge disappointment unable to replace the departed Dell Curry (1998). A guy
like Mario Elie would be nice.