Charlotte Hornets Fantasy Basketball Season Preview

Charlotte were the likable underdogs last year finishing 6th in the East and exiting the playoffs in the first round. Fantasy-wise Kemba Walker had a career year while Marvin Williams maintained 6th round value throughout the year and Batum saw a return to form. Al Jefferson continued to be plagued by injury and for the second year in a row dropped into irrelevance. As exciting as Charlotte was last year, their off-season moves have weakened the team and created a logjam at every position. Bringing in Hibbert after losing Jefferson doesn’t feel so much like a replacement as a statement of intent to continue to develop Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, but others have suggested that Zeller will be in a time-share with Hibbert.

Jeremy Lin has headed back to New York much to the chagrin of Charlotte fans, and the front office brought in another backup point guard, Ramon Sessions, who is familiar in Charlotte, but a definite step down from the energetic Lin. Courtney Lee, the epitome of the three-and-D guy that every team needs, was also shipped up to the empire state.

Player Movement

Notable Ins Notable Outs
Marco Belinelli Sacramento Kings
Ramon Sessions Washington Wizards
Roy Hibbert Los Angeles Lakers
Al Jefferson Indiana Pacers
Courtney Lee New York Knicks
Jeremy Lin Brooklyn Nets

Charlotte Hornets Depth Chart

Point Guard Shooting Guard Small Forward Power Forward Center
Kemba Walker
Ramon Sessions
Brian Roberts
Nicolas Batum
Jeremy Lamb
Marco Belinelli
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Aaron Harrison
Marvin Williams
Frank Kaminsky
Cody Zeller
Roy Hibbert
Christian Wood
Spencer Hawes

Rotation Player Projections

POS PLAYER USG MPG PTS REB AST STL BLK 3PM FG% FT% TO
PG Kemba Walker 28 36 22.3 4.4 5.8 1.6 0.5 2.4 42.7 84.7 2.4
SG Nicolas Batum 23 34 15.5 5.9 6 0.9 0.6 2.1 42.6 84.9 3
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 17.9 28 12.1 6.1 1.2 0.4 0.4 0.4 54.1 69 1.1
PF Marvin Williams 16.9 28 11.3 6.2 1.4 0.7 1 1.8 45.2 83.3 0.8
C Cody Zeller 15.3 24 8.6 6.1 1 0.8 0.9 0 52.9 75.4 0.9
PF Frank Kaminsky 18 24 9 4.7 1.4 0.6 0.6 1 41 73 0.8
C Roy Hibbert 12.9 22 5.6 4.9 1.1 0.4 1.4 0 44.3 80.7 0.9
SG Jeremy Lamb 22.1 18 8.5 3.7 1.2 0.6 0.5 0.8 45.1 72.7 0.8
SG Marco Belinelli 19.7 14 5.8 1 1.1 0.3 0 0.7 38.6 83.3 0.7
PG Ramon Sessions 21.7 12 5.9 1.5 1.7 0.4 0.1 0.2 47.3 75.6 0.8

Position Battles

Back-up Backcourt

The starting backcourt is set with Walker and Batum but after that it’s anybody’s guess who gets enough minutes to be fantasy worthy. Belinelli is an adequate shooter with none of the defensive chops of the previous backup Courtney Lee. Sessions is a career 3-to-1 assists-to-turnover point guard with good speed but little defense. Both Walker and Batum also average 35+ minutes a game so there isn’t a lot of time to divvy up for the bench. There’s a chance Belinelli sees enough time to average more than one three a game with some streaming value when he’s hot.

Power Forward

If Williams’ efficiency drops or if the Hornets are in need of more offense and floor stretching (in the absence of Jefferson) then we could see the emergence of a time share. Kaminsky’s defense will need to improve if he’s going to really compete for the starting position. Given his length Kaminsky could provide the same threes-and-blocks combo that makes Williams so enticing. This probably won’t manifest as a position battle if the Hornets are staying in playoff contention and Williams plays like last year.

Rise in Value

Cody Zeller

Zeller probably won’t get Jefferson type usage but he should see an increase in minutes and his pick and roll with Kemba really came along last year. He tends to disappear against dominant big men but he worked on an outside jumper this summer and that would increase his relevance when up against sizable bigs. His value will be in the counting stats and if he, for some reason, is losing minutes to Hibbert then he may not be worth owning. Keep an eye on his minutes at the beginning of the season. Anything over 27 and he’ll be a solid big.

Slight decrease in Value

Batum and Williams

I only want to point out that both Batum (pts. and assists) and Williams (rebounds, 3PM, blocks) put up career numbers last year, so don't draft expecting too much more. Draft expecting the same or slightly less. This is less of a concern for Batum, who looks energized by his new roll and is more of an issue for a ten-year veteran like Williams.

Player Summaries

Kemba Walker Recent Surgery

I like to keep tabs on any players who have a had recent surgeries so this is just a reminder that Walker had a torn meniscus in his left knee repaired in May. He has had ample time to recover effectively so this is most likely not an issue. There’s no reason to think that Walker won’t return to top-20 form. The offensive threat of Batum has helped with Walker’s efficiency but he can still put a damper on the FG%. He’s a good PG for a FG%-punt build.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Deep League

MKG is back after missing last year with a torn labrum. He should be inserted right back into the starting lineup and putting up value right about 160. He’s little more than a points-a-rebounds guy but his FG% and FT% are serviceable and he’ll put up the occasional block.

Nicolas Batum Frenchman

If you’re still rocking a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker and ordering freedom fries you may want to steer clear of this frenchman. If not, this guy is almost surely going to replicate last season. Same usage, same minutes. He had a career year in points (14.9) and assists(5.8) so if anything, those may drop slightly but not enough to worry.


Like what you've read? Share it with your friends on