The Charlotte Hornets had a better than expected 2013-14 campaign. The Hornets have found the right coach in Steve Clifford, foundational pieces in Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, drafted a talented young core in Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist—yet something is still missing. The playoff defeat to the Miami Heat showed just how far the Hornets still have to go. Charlotte has many issues to address this offseason if they want to play with the big boys. Their biggest need is to acquire an up and coming star, and I believe acquiring Lance Stephenson is just what the Hornets need.
Here are five reasons why Lance Stephenson is perfect for the Charlotte Hornets.
#1 Cap Space
Unlike Indiana, Charlotte has an abundance of cap space to play with. Depending on what players like Josh McRoberts do, Charlotte could have as much as $20 million to spend. This fact gives Charlotte an opportunity to make a substantial offer to Stephenson’s camp. Stephenson is an unrestricted free agent since he was a second-round pick in 2010, per CBA rules. Indiana could re-sign him, but at the cost of limited financial flexibility for years to come. Stephenson is free to sign with whom he pleases. Chances are he goes for the most money offered and Charlotte has plenty of cash to spend.
#2 Classic Buy Low Situation
Stephenson is getting all the blame for Indiana’s implosion. Some of it is deserved. He has decreased his own value on the open market. This has all the looks of a risky stock that could boom with a change of scenery. Shooting guard is a position that is rare to find elite talent. Stephenson is a two-way player with more upside to tap into. Borderline All-Stars, who are unrestricted, and only 23 years old don’t grow on trees. This is a league where elite talent wins. Stephenson is immature, no doubt, but at 23 and with his talent can Charlotte really afford to pass at a chance to obtain a future star?
#3 Skill Set To Provide Needed Offensive Firepower
Charlotte needs more scoring, shooting, and spacing–especially from the wings. MKG’s jump shot will be fine under the tutelage of Mark Price I believe, but he will never be Ray Allen. Gerald Henderson has peaked as an inconsistent shooter and scorer at best. He is best served as a bench player. Charlotte, as currently constructed, has players that struggle to score and space the floor consistently at the wings.
Stephenson can do things offensively that Charlotte desperately needs. He spreads the floor with 3-point shooting and a mid range game. He can handle the ball, which as of now only Kemba Walker can do. Stephenson can attack the rim and draw fouls or finish. He can create his own shot or for teammates. Stephenson is a true five-tool player offensively that would mesh well with Charlotte’s core. As an extra bonus, he’s ain’t too shabby at D either, which fits Clifford’s defense-first system.
#4 Charlotte Has The Right Culture To Foster Stephenson’s Baggage
Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson are strong leaders. Walker and Stephenson have history from growing up in Brooklyn together. Clifford doesn’t put up with antics. Michael Jordan is all about creating the right culture. If there is anyone capable of reaching a competitive, talented, driven player like Stephenson it is MJ.
If I can use my Jedi mind powers for a moment, I think Stephenson is surrounded by drama queens in Indiana. Paul George is a diva, with baggage of his own to deal with as a baby daddy. Roy Hibbert is the most overpaid “good” player in the league.
The Hornets are a drama free team that works hard. They have drafted high character players to resurrect the franchise. With such leadership surrounding him, Stephenson can mature in the player he needs to be.
#5 Stephenson Becomes a Key to Sustained Success
Charlotte’s future is bright. Just two years ago they won only seven games. No you didn’t misread that, just seven games! Last year they won 43. Walker is 23, MKG is 20, and Zeller is 21. Charlotte has two first round picks in this year’s deep NBA Draft at ninth and 24th overall. That’s a lot of ammo to build with.
At only 23, obtaining a potential All-Star like Stephenson builds on a solid foundation for years to come.
With Stephenson, Charlotte could make some noise in weak Eastern Conference.