This past season was a success for the Charlotte Hornets as they made the playoffs for the second time in their 10 years of existence as the Bobcats and posted a 43-39 record on the season. Unfortunately the Hornets (at the time the Bobcats) were ousted by the Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat in a 4-0 series sweep.
Now with their season over, the Hornets should be focusing on the offseason. Somehow after the Ben Gordon disaster, the Hornets now have cap space and two first-round picks in this upcoming very deep 2014 NBA Draft. The first place Charlotte needs to look to improve is its play on the wing. This offseason the Hornets should target arguably the best shooting guard in this free agent class in the Indiana Pacers‘ Lance Stephenson.
Last year the Hornets were a team with very few options on offense. If the ball wasn’t getting dumped down low in the paint to Al Jefferson (who posted 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game on the season) then there really wasn’t any sort of plan offensively. Kemba Walker (17.7 points and 6.1 assists per game) was a great No. 2 option, but after those two the Hornets had no reliable offensive weapons.
The Hornets’ starting shooting guard, Gerald Henderson, was supposed to be the No. 3 option on offense. He did a decent job of it until the Hornets brought in Gary Neal midseason as the sixth man. Henderson then became a complementary scorer for the first unit while Neal “led” the second unit by taking bad shots.
The problems with Henderson’s game are that he isn’t aggressive, he can’t shoot on spot-ups and his range only goes out as far as the 18-foot area. Henderson isn’t much of a passer, but he can defend and rebound at a decent clip. Stephenson, on the other hand, excels in areas that Henderson is weak at and is better in the areas in which Henderson does well.
Stephenson could definitely be that No. 3 option for the Hornets as he played a similar role in Indiana this past year. Here is a guy who can shoot the ball at a decent clip as well as attack the basket and he’s a great rebounder who can also run the offense from time to time. Stephenson has no problem playing aggressively on both ends of the floor and isn’t afraid of the big moment; that’s the type of player the Hornets should be targeting.
There is good and bad that comes with Stephenson, but for an up-and-coming team like the Hornets, he’s well worth the risk. The Hornets could use a versatile player such as Stephenson on the wing who will bring new, different things to the table. This past year Stephenson averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists and at age 23, he could be the long-term option at shooting guard for the Hornets.