Charlotte Hornets: Could Kemba Walker, Stephen Curry Co-Exist?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Playing the hypothetical game, we explore whether Stephen Curry could co-exist on this current Charlotte Hornets roster

Cardiac Kemba.

Who can forget him?

(If the answer is you reader, then you may want to brush up on what he’s been doing since heading into the NBA, because it’s impressive).

I’m going to give you a set of stats to analyze:

  • Player A: 17.9 PPG, 3.9 TRPG, 5.4 APG, 41.0 FG%, 34.5 3P%, 82.3% from the FT line, and a 46.3 eFG%.
  • Player B: 23.1 PPG, 4.2 TRPG, 5.5 APG, 46.7 FG%, 42.1 3P%, 83.0% from the FT line, and a 54.6 eFG%.

So who’s who?

Player A is Kemba Walker’s career stats line, and Player B are Kemba’s stats for this season (so far).

Kemba has long been a conundrum to NBA writers and fans alike. Prior to before last season, the highest 3P% Kemba held was 33.3 percent; which is a few percentage points before the league average (which is generally 35-36%).

After his rookie season, Kemba bumped up his scoring average from 12.1 to 17.7 PPG, which led many to be hopeful for the (then) Charlotte Bobcats’ future. Then, he became stagnant.

Kemba was consistent (to be fair), scoring 17.7 PPG exactly in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but his field goal percentage dipped from 42.3 to 39.3 percent, during those seasons and then even lower to 38.5 percent in the 2014 season.

Put otherwise: Kemba became (arguably) the league’s most polarizing player, and continues to be a hot topic of discussion in the NBA community.

Currently? The Hornets are currently 20-21, and 9th in the Eastern Conference. They are also on a five-game losing streak. Granted, they’ve been playing with an injured max-contract re-signee (?) Nicolas Batum since earlier this month, but their recent struggles have led Kemba/Hornets skeptics to question: can the Hornets make the playoffs with their current roster, or are upgrades needed?

Is Kemba a piece of the puzzle, or the piece that doesn’t quite fit?

I’ll take the question a step further – beyond the current NBA season and however the playoffs shake out (#BleedGreen) – what if a new piece joined the team? A piece by the name of…… Curry.

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Whoops, sorry, wrong one:

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

There we go.

You may have heard the whispers: from NC, big Panthers fan, publicly has stated he wouldn’t mind playing for his hometown team some day….. but what if actually happened? Better yet (and the more realistic question), could it?

Let’s explore.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Does the roster need tinkering with?

The Charlotte Hornets are not afraid to make bold moves. Noah Vonleh (pictured above), just a year after being selected 9th overall by the Hornets was traded to the Trail Blazers for Nic Batum. Heck, the Hornets traded a first-rounder for Marco Belinelli this past offseason.

That pick turned into Malachi Richardson, who was a sleeper pick for me coming out of Syracuse, but the jury is still out on how good he’ll be; as he’s bounced around the D-League and the King’s actual roster so far this year.

So the question still remains: if Steph were to come to Charlotte, should they make any moves?

I’m going to be bold and say no. Make no changes and here’s why:

To be clear: I like Tyson Chandler. But while the Suns’ GM may never admit it, signing Chandler was an attempt to lure then free-agent LaMarcus Aldridge to play in Phoenix. Aldridge opted to sign in San Antonio (smart move), and now Phoenix has an oddly constructed roster and further extended their rebuild.

Now, Charlotte is not in the midst of a rebuild, but after finishing 48-34 last season, you’d have to imagine MJ and Co. are not pleased with the Hornets’ season thus far.

Is Roy Hibbert the best center in the NBA? Not by a long shot. But he’s serviceable still and, up until the last few years, everyone thought Marvin Williams was a bust. MKG’s jump shot looked like something out of a how NOT to shoot a basketball video. Steve Clifford is a solid coach, and will get something out of whoever is on the roster. It’s just a matter of time to see how their roster shakes out to be.

 Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Could Steph co-exist with the current roster?

So let’s keep going with this idea that Steph is signing with the Charlotte Hornets. Implementing a unanimous MVP is no easy task to a team that hasn’t had a player of his caliber. (Sorry Kemba, you’re still my second favorite point guard in the East).

As of right now, Steve Clifford has Kemba on a 29.1 USG%. Batum holds a 21.4 USG%. Add that up and Kemba and Batum alone have the ball in their hands roughly 50.5 percent of the time. Steph has the ball in his hands 28.8 percent of the time. Are three players really supposed to run the offense roughly 75 percent of the time? (The answer is yes).

Let’s assume that the Hornets make minor changes to the roster between now and the offseason, and keep intact most of the current players on the roster. The starting 5 next season would most likely look something like: Kemba-Curry-Batum-Williams-Kaminsky.

Williams only averages 1.3 APG, and a 17.2 USG%. Kaminsky, while considerably younger and with more time to improve, holds a 1.5 APG average, and a 18.5 USG%; which is pretty impressive considering he’s bounced from the starting and the bench lineup as consistently as Isaiah Thomas going off in the 4th quarter. (Yes that was a shameless Celtics plug).

The point to all of this is that Williams and Kaminsky don’t need the ball in their hands since they both are stretch forwards. They’ll be waiting for open shots with the attention Curry and Kemba draw due to their insane penetration ability.

While not the greatest rebounders, Curry, Kemba, and Batum can hold their own in that department. If Clifford wants, he can insert MKG into the starting 5 in place of Kaminsky and push Williams to the 5 spot; especially if he wants a little more defense.

(MKG’s APG average is 1.5, and a 16.8 USG% for reference, but is the best defender of any of the aforementioned players).

Bottom line: the Charlotte Hornets could be scary good.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports


Admittedly, the Charlotte Hornets’ rebounding issues are not solved if Steph signs. For those of you reading this and have been waiting for a trade, I hear Jusuf Nurkic is available…. maybe swap Nurkic and Jameer Nelson for Ramon Sessions and a future first and second rounder?

The Hornets don’t lose a decent backup PG, and they get a more traditional center to pair with their slew of stretch forwards.

If the Nuggets would take Roy Hibbert, even better.

All in all, I think the Charlotte Hornets are dreaming big this season and the next despite the stings they’ve taken.

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