With the NBA Summer League winding down teams are starting to get a better idea of where players are going to go in the lineup. In the case of the Charlotte Hornets, they have made their free agency moves and most likely have their complete roster.
Some big acquisitions have been added this offseason to help a club that underachieved their way to a 36-46 record last season. Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Michael Carter-Williams, and Dwayne Bacon are some of the names brought in to bring some new life into the team.
With the addition of these players and the development of current players, we could see a variety of line-ups for the Hornets next season. This is my prediction for their best starting lineup.
PG- Kemba Walker
SG- Malik Monk
SF- Nic Batum
PF- Frank Kaminsky
C- Dwight Howard
The Hornets have done a good job establishing a core group of players to be reliable starters over the last few seasons. Kemba Walker has transformed into a leader with electric offensive capability. He has improved his shooting percentage every season while becoming better with the ball. He is more of a modern point guard, scoring first and distributing later, but he is without a doubt their best option at the one spot.
Nic Batum is the most well-rounded player on the roster, but with the arrival of Malik Monk, Batum will be rooted more at the small forward spot. Batum is such a multi-tool guy he can help out at any position. His lengthy body allows him to drive and play well in the restricted zone but he is also a great shooter. We saw his play dip last year so hopefully, he gets back on track.
As a rookie, some might expect Monk to play off the bench but he brings a huge scoring potential to the team and head coach Steve Clifford will try to utilize him at the two spot. The Hornets have done such a good job creating depth in their roster that the bench will have plenty of offensive prowess, leaving Monk to team up with Walker for a talented front-court duo.
Depending on who the opponent is, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may get the starting nod at small forward due to his defensive mastery. If the opponent is a team like the Clevland Cavaliers, coach Clifford may find it better to start Kidd-Gilchrist to defend LeBron James. This would move Batum back to the two spot, allowing Monk to help out the second unit. Batum is so well rounded that he can rotate around spots, giving the team a variety of lineups to choose from.
Frank Kaminsky will most likely start at the four spot. He has shown progress over his two-year career so far but has not been anything special. At seven feet tall he can stretch the floor offensively, but he is a lousy rebounder. Marvin Williams has been the premier forward for the Hornets lately, being a reliable shooter and a consistent scorer and rebounder. His age is likely to slow him down this season and his veteran presence could be better coming off the bench. If Kaminsky struggles I wouldn’t be surprised to see him and Williams switched, but for now, the organization will go forward with the youth.
Lastly, Dwight Howard will undoubtedly be starting at the five spot. Even with the progression of Cody Zeller, Howard is too good not to start. He has remained one of the most elite rebounders in the game, averaging 13.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last year. Mix in his astounding shooting percentage and his defensive presence inside and this gives the Hornets a reliable scoring option everywhere on the floor.
The best part of all of this is the Hornets have a plethora of combinations they can use to throw off the game plans of opponents. Even their bigger lineups don’t sacrifice the three-point shot and they can revert to smaller faster lineups if needed.
Steve Clifford has an array of options at every position and it will be interesting to see what kind of units come out onto the floor.
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