The Charlotte Hornets have made a very important acquisition that should help them to retain a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season. The NBA odds show that the regular season total is set at 45 wins but the question is if they can get beyond the first round.
Why The Hornets Will Go Over The Number
Charlotte did not score very much last season. The Hornets (back then the Bobcats) averaged just under 97 points per game, putting them 23rd in the NBA. This team needed an offensive sparkplug in the offseason, and it has found one. Lance Stephenson was a core part of the Indiana Pacers the last few years. He is a player who can create his own shot by dribbling to the basket and using his muscular body to fight his way past his defender. Stephenson has considerable ball skills and a playground style that might irritate coaches at times, but it’s effective in getting to the rim and creating a lot for his team. Stephenson is a high-energy player who also provides solid defense. He is an unguardable player when he’s hitting his long-range jumper, but he usually doesn’t need that jumper because he can get to the hoop.
More numbers from the Hornets last season (when they were still called the Bobcats) tell the story of why this team wasn’t able to go deeper in the playoffs. Charlotte was 23rd or worse in the NBA in all of the three-point shooting measurements – attempts, made shots, and shooting percentage. The Hornets were a bad field goal shooting team in general and a below-average free throw shooting team, placing 24th in the league at under 74 percent. With Stephenson creating shots and getting closer to the rim, you should see the Hornets’ percentages go up, and with that improvement safely secured, they should be able to win in the high 40s.
Why The Hornets Will Stay Under The Number
Charlotte’s pickup of Stephenson is a two-way thing, meaning that it can be a curse as much as a blessing. Stephenson is a hothead who gets involved in foolish personal battles and competitions, such as his very individual quest to want to bother LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals when LeBron was still with the Miami Heat. Stephenson gets distracted, and while his talent level is through the roof, Stephenson will go through games or quarters in which he makes careless plays and doesn’t truly control himself. This volatile form of Stephenson will cost Charlotte at least a few games during the season, and it will minimize this team’s gains over a longer range of time. Charlotte had the fewest average turnovers in the NBA last season. With Stephenson’s erratic play, that average is going to go down toward the middle of the pack. Charlotte was also the best in the NBA at fouling, with the lowest average in that category, too. Stephenson is definitely going to pick up a bunch of fouls in several games, sending more teams to the foul line.
In the final analysis of the NBA odds, Charlotte will come very close to its total. But the Hornets were 25th in offensive rebounding last season. Will they be able to win 50 or even 48 games with their roster? Probably not – the under looks like a slightly better choice for your NBA picks.
NFL Pick: Under 45 at 5Dimes