It’s time for another edition of all-time starting five. In this go round, we have the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte, as you may already know, began as an expansion team in 1988. From there, the team trudged through a number of mildly successful seasons before becoming the Charlotte Bobcats after the original expansion franchise relocated to New Orleans in the early 2000s. The relocation stunt nearly cost the franchise its history in Charlotte, actually. A pretty confusing history for such a so-so franchise.
Nevertheless, after a brief stint as the Bobcats during the 2000s, the Charlotte Hornets are now the Hornets again after the New Orleans Hornets agreed to become the New Orleans Pelicans a few years back, thus returning the Hornets name and history back to Charlotte. A lot of commotion for the Dave Matthews Band of NBA franchises.
At any rate, we’ve got a starting five to select. Let’s lay down some criteria:
- Players must have completed at least one full season in Charlotte (or the equivalent to 82 games) in order to qualify for the lineup.
- Basketball-Reference will be used to determine eligibility for positions. For example, if Player X is listed as a small forward by Basketball-Reference, then Player X isn’t eligible to play power forward in our hypothetical lineup. This lineup doesn’t grant positional flexibility in the sake of convenience.
- I’m basing the selection process exclusively by what a player did while he was in Charlotte. Nothing a player did before, nor after his time there, has any impact on the decision.
- Popularity matters.
- Within the positional guidelines, I’m trying to assemble the best five-man lineup. Fit really serves no purpose here.
C – Alonzo Mourning
Zo had three absolutely freakish seasons while he was a member of the Hornets. The guy’s career averages in Charlotte look like this: 21 points / 10 rebounds / 3 blocks / above 50 percent field goal percentage. The only argument against Zo is that his time in Charlotte was short-lived. If, perhaps, one wanted to make the case for a lifer like Emeka Okafor, I could see it. But Zo’s peak blows Okafor’s out of the water. Okafor’s best season in Charlotte was in 06-07 when he put up 14/11/2.5. Therefore, I wouldn’t even consider this a close decision…it’s gotta be Zo.
PF – Larry Johnson
Is Larry Johnson the greatest player in franchise history? I think the case can definitely be made. In Johnson’s five seasons, he averaged a shade under 20 and 10 while doling out four dimes, not to mention on above-average efficiency shooting-wise. Grandmama Larry Johnson is also one of those players who’d thrive in today’s game. He’s the perfect small-ball 4 or 5. Much respect to LJ.
SF – Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace has the distinct honor of being a part of two of the most lopsided trades in NBA history. In 2012, he was traded as a rental by the Portland Trail Blazers to the then-New Jersey Nets for a first-round pick, which later became Damian Lillard. Then 16 months later, he was included in the infamous Boston-Brooklyn trade which saw Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett be shipped to Brooklyn for three first-round draft picks.
But more importantly, Crash had a damn good career while in Charlotte as a member of the Bobcats. From ’05 to ’09, the dude was worth a tick under 40 Win Shares (39.7). That’s an insanely valuable player, to be sure. Crash just did it all. He found ways to score despite not being a good shooter by attacking relentlessly. He could rebound, pass, provide great man-to-man defense, block shots and collect steals. Crash is another guy who, if he came along, say, 10 years later, would be an ideal fit for the pace-and-space era. His combination of defensive versatility and outright production make him a truly unique player, regardless of era. Sorry, Glen Rice.
SG – Dell Curry
The franchise’s all-time leader in games played, points scored, and three-point and two-point field goals. This one was a no-brainer. Not a whole lot of explanation necessary.
PG – Baron Davis
I honestly am stuck on this one, so I just picked the point guard who had the single best season while he was a member of the Hornets / Bobcats / Hornets. Davis’s 01-02 season ain’t too shabby: 18 points, 8.5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 48.0 effective field goal percentage. The tricky part is the following season, the team moved to New Orleans and those years (which were remarkable for Davis individually) don’t count in the franchise’s history.
Muggsy Bogues probably has the strongest case, but the overall body of work isn’t particularly inspiring once you get past the fact a 5-foot-3 human being played in the NBA for 14 seasons. Which, to be clear, is truly inspiring.
I don’t think Hornets’ fans memories of Raymond Felton are all that fond, so I didn’t give him much consideration.
Kemba Walker‘s a semi-interesting one considering his age and potential. However, he’s the modern day poster-child for a high-usage, low-efficiency player. His effective field goal percentage last season was below 43 percent and his usage rate was nearly at 26! Yikes.
So in the end, I think a young B-Diddy is the right call. He rounds the team out and matches the elite athleticism on the wings in Wallace and Johnson. Curry’s the shooter. Zo is the monster in the middle. I kinda like this team, honestly.
What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Drop a comment below!
Previous all-time starting fives: Bulls, Pistons, Thunder-Sonics, Magic, Mavericks, Heat, Lakers, Wizards, Pacers, Raptors, Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets, Celtics, Grizzlies, Rockets, Pelicans-Hornets-Jazz, Clippers, Jazz, Spurs, Suns, Kings, Cavaliers, Hawks, Nets