By Tyler on May 28, 2014
Fresh off a 43-39 record, first-round postseason exit and a name change, the Charlotte Hornets have massive reason for speculation heading into the 2014-15 season. And while opening day of the next season is still a substantial period of time away, I have taken the liberty of predicting potential draft picks, trades and free agents signings to come up with the five players who will be starting for the Hornets next year.
Walker has been the starting point guard for nearly all of his three-season career in Charlotte, and he has done a great job along the way. In 2013-14, the quick, nimble point guard averaged 35.8 minutes per game, 17.7 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals over 73 regular season games played. Walker has another year left on his contract, and Charlotte won't be foolish enough to move him out of town.
Charlotte suffered from a lack of impact athleticism and length on the wings, and they look likely to solve this by taking P.J. Hairston with the ninth pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Hairston tore apart the NBA D-League in 2013-14, playing 26 games and averaging 21.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Hairston has great athleticism and can shoot from distance, making him a great starting option for the short and long term in Charlotte.
Kidd-Gilchrist has been a steady option at small forawrd for the Hornets over his two-season career, and in 2013-14 he averaged 7.2 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and a 47.3 field goal percentage. It would be nice to see Kidd-Gilchrist develop a better mid-range and three-point shooting touch, and the 20-year-old has the time to develop these more intricate pieces of his game. Nevertheless, Kidd-Gilchrist is a surefire starter next year.
Zeller mainly came off the bench during his rookie season, as he started only three out of 82 games and averaged 17.3 minutes, 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. The seven-footer profiles as a center, but his size and low-post moves would make life miserable for opposing power forwards. Furthermore, at 21 years old, Zeller has time to develop a mid-range shooting game and is already at least an average option at power forward.
Jefferson absolutely transformed the Hornets last season, playing in 73 games and averaging 21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 35 minutes per game. Along with Walker, Jefferson is the face of Charlotte, and they will live and die with this duo. Based on that outlook, expect another postseason appearance in 2014-15.
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