Hornets’ Noah Vonleh out 6-8 weeks

Hornets lose first-round pick Noah Vonleh for 6-8 weeks with sports hernia



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Hornets first-round pick Vonleh out 6-8 weeks

Hornets lose first-round pick Noah Vonleh for 6-8 weeks with sports hernia



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Hornets first-round pick Vonleh out 6-8 weeks (Yahoo Sports)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets say rookie forward Noah Vonleh will be out for six to eight weeks after surgery to repair a sports hernia.

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Breaking Down Charlotte Hornets’ Small Forward Position for 2014-15 Season

The Charlotte Hornets are poised for a stellar 2014-15 NBA season behind a deep roster full of youth, athleticism and defensive prowess. Head coach Steve Clifford turned this team into an elite club on the less glamorous end of the floor last season by establishing a strong foundation of fundamental, unselfish basketball.

In order to make a leap this coming year, Charlotte will need a big uptick in production from one particular spot on the floor.

Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker will lock down the backcourt and the center spot with ease. At power forward, Charlotte has newcomer Marvin Williams as well as two incredibly talented top-10 draft picks in Noah Vonleh and Cody Zeller.

Small forward is a very different story.


Last Year’s Performance

It would be tough to make a case against small forward being Charlotte’s weakest position last year. The front office tried to mitigate some of the shortcomings by offering a king’s random for Gordon Hayward in the offseason (four years, $63 million), but the Utah Jazz ultimately matched the contract and retained their restricted free agent.

Charlotte is left with much of the same. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is still the starter with two years of experience under his belt. He took a step back offensively in year two, struggling to find his place with Al Jefferson in town and Josh McRoberts breaking out.

However, he thrived in Clifford’s new defensive scheme by posting a defensive rating of 103. Night in and night out, he locked onto the opposing team’s best perimeter player and wreaked havoc.

The main problem is that he is a liability on offense, continuously getting lost on that end of the floor and having almost no impact. He shot a good percentage from the floor at 47 percent last season, but he doesn’t expand his game whatsoever. In order to live up to his lofty draft status as a No. 2 pick, he has to add to his repertoire.

Behind him, things got even murkier. He is really the only prototypical NBA 3 on the roster. Jeff Taylor played just 26 games before succumbing to a ruptured Achilles, and he was mostly ineffective during his time.

Anthony Tolliver delivered some great outside shooting in his absence, and that was just about it. This wasn’t a deep position for Charlotte last season whatsoever.

In fact, Charlotte had the least productive small forward corps in the entire NBA last year, according to HoopsStats.com, posting 14.9 points, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals a night. All were worst in the league.

Overall Grade: C-


What Is In Flux This Offseason

From a roster standpoint, what has changed is that Tolliver is gone and Marvin Williams is in. The only problem is that Williams has played mostly power forward in recent years and should fill that role in the starting lineup, replacing McRoberts. Chris Douglas-Roberts also appears to be nearing a deal with the Clippers.

Charlotte selected P.J. Hairston in the first round, but he projected as much more of a typical shooting guard. Lance Stephenson was brought in, sliding Gerald Henderson to the bench. Neither of them have ideal size to play small forward at all. 

That leaves MKG and Taylor as the two who absolutely have to get it done. Charlotte can clearly succeed with MKG scoring seven points a game, but an improvement on his part could very well separate this team from the rest of the pack of middling playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.

All this means that the main thing in flux is MKG‘s jumper. He shot 61 percent in the paint last season but under 31 percent everywhere else.

Charlotte needs him to improve offensively in order to improve the production from that position. His defensive ability is paramount to the team’s success, but a lot hinges on his ability to take the next step. This is especially true with little else on the roster in terms of small forward talent. Taylor has been cleared for practice after his injury, but he has limited upside.


What It Should Look Like Next Season

It is unreasonable to expect MKG to turn into an offensive threat overnight. Getting 10-12 points a night from him next year would be a big improvement. Clifford needs to get him out in the open court and have him more involved in the flow of the offense; otherwise, his growth will never come. Avoiding the growing pains will not give him the satisfaction of overcoming them.

The most beneficial scenario to employ in the present time would be to go with smaller lineups when MKG isn’t on the floor. Henderson, Hairston and Stephenson are all a few inches and a couple pounds short of being able to play extended minutes at small forward, but all make up for it with athleticism.

The NBA is trending toward smaller lineups in general, and Stephenson is more than capable of guarding players with size on him. MKG should continue to improve and see an uptick in minutes, but there will still be a small amount of time when neither he nor Taylor is on the floor and Charlotte has to make do.

The size up front gives Clifford plenty of options with his backcourt. The additions of Vonleh and Williams inject some added size into the frontcourt in order to free up some other spots.

With the way this roster is situated, Charlotte is banking a lot on MKG. He will continue to wow people on defense, but Stephenson’s presence will take an immense amount of pressure off of him. An exceptional defender in his own right, the triple-double machine will have no problem covering guys like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony for brief stretches.

This team needs to play to its strengths. Clifford’s defensive system runs plenty deep enough to accommodate a small lineup from time to time. Expect to see Walker, Henderson and Stephenson all on the court together with some regularity, because the matchup problems that backcourt would create should cancel out any slight defensive handicaps.

Clifford should have more fun with this roster since he can mix and match. Henderson, Taylor, Hairston and Gary Neal all off the bench will be a potent second unit, something Charlotte severely lacked last season.

Charlotte cannot really mess up this situation. The issue last year pertained more to the lack of overall talent and not so much the lack of small forward depth. Having MKG and arguably Jeff Taylor as the only traditional small forwards should not hold this roster back at all due to the bevy of shooting guards.


Follow Justin on Twitter @Hussington 

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Charlotte Hornets: Initial thoughts about the 2014-2015 schedule

Mid-August is a pretty boring period on the NBA’s calendar.  There are no monster dunks, ankle-breaking crossovers, or last second buzzer beaters this time of year.  Even the four-letter-network-who-shall-not-be-named has some difficulty coming up with NBA news once the free agency period slows down.  But have no fear die-hard NBA nerds fans; the NBA released its schedule for the 2014-2015 this past Wednesday!  It may not be as sexy as LeBron’s homecoming in Cleveland, the potential Kevin Durant homecoming in Washington (calm down Wiz fans), or even the potential for Andrew Wiggins to waste away his rookie contract in Minnesota, but the schedule does provide a first glimpse at the upcoming season.
The Charlotte Hornets schedule reveals many interesting games, subplots, and narratives for the new and improved Hornets 2.0.  Here, I will break down the Hornets schedule and provide some insight into some of their more interesting matchups.  However, instead of using boring headlines such as “Best Game

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Steph Curry Says He Has Thought About Playing for The Hornets

Golden State Warriors all everything guard Stephen Curry admitted that he’s recently had thoughts about playing pro ball in his home state.
Curry, who is in the middle of an extension he signed two-years ago, was asked about playing with the Hornets and here is what he had to say via the Doug Gottlieb Show.

“I’ve always had thoughts about playing at home, what it would be like,” said Curry, who is in the middle of a four-year, $44 million contract extension with the Warriors. “My dad played there for 10 years, and people around the Greater Charlotte area in North Carolina have done a lot for my family growing up, so you always think about it.
“Right now I feel like I’ve got three years left on my deal, so this isn’t going to be an issue for me for a while. I love the Bay Area and where we are as a team trying to win a championship, and that’s what it’s all about. Of course everybody dreams about or thinks about what it’s going to be like to play at home. Obviously if that opportuni…

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Stephen Curry interested in playing for Hornets?

The Golden State Warriors are excited about another season with star point guard Stephen Curry leading the way, but they may have some concern about his future in Oakland.
Curry talked last week on The Doug Gottlieb Show about potentially going back to his home team and playing at some point in his career. It was very obvious that Curry is intrigued with the idea, and could end up doing that when his next contract rolls around.
“I’ve always had thoughts about playing at home, what it would be like,” Curry said, via Diamond Leung of Inside the Bay Area. “My dad played there for 10 years, and people around the Greater Charlotte area in North Carolina have done a lot for my family growing up, so you always think about it. Right now I feel like I’ve got three years left on my deal, so this isn’t going to be an issue for me for a while. I love the Bay Area and where we are as a team trying to win a championship, and that’s what it’s all about. Of course everybody dreams about or thinks about wh

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Charlotte Hornets Will Bid to Host NBA All-Star Weekend in 2017 or 2018

The newly re-branded Charlotte Hornets are looking to be a factor in the NBA‘s Eastern Conference during the upcoming season, but the organization announced even bigger plans Tuesday. 

According to NBA.com, the Hornets and the city of Charlotte, North Carolina will submit a bid to host NBA All-Star Weekend at Time Warner Cable Arena in either 2017 or 2018.

The announcement was officially made by Charlotte Sports Foundation executive director Will Webb, per NBA.com.

On behalf of everyone involved, we are very excited to announce that we will submit an official bid this afternoon for Charlotte to host NBA All-Star Weekend. The overwhelming support for the Hornets during their playoff run and re-branding has proven the passion Charlotte has for the NBA. And the worldwide fan base of the NBA makes this a perfect opportunity to showcase Charlotte and Time Warner Cable Arena on a global stage.

The Hornets’ official Twitter account released a photo of the contingent that will travel to New York City in order to submit the bid:

Also, Mark Davenport of WBTV News offered a closer look at the bid, which is fittingly encased in a honeycomb:

As seen in this photo courtesy of Fox Sports Hoops, the Hornets certainly seem to boast a venue worthy of hosting the All-Star festivities: 

Winning the bid would be a huge step forward for what has largely been a moribund franchise since its inception in 2004. The original Hornets relocated to New Orleans in 2002, but Charlotte received an expansion franchise two years later in the form of the Bobcats.

With the New Orleans Hornets changing their name to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Bobcats jumped at the opportunity to snag the Hornets name and restore the tradition that Charlotte’s NBA franchise had been missing since returning in 2004.

Now that Charlotte is trending in an upward direction, Hornets Sports and Entertainment president Fred Whitfield believes that now is the right time for the city to pursue an All-Star Game, according to NBA.com.

It is our honor to submit our bid for the city of Charlotte to host a future All-Star Weekend. The Charlotte Sports Foundation and other community and business leaders have urged us to undertake this effort and have pledged their full support.  We are grateful for their backing and look forward to once again having the chance to bring international acclaim to the city of Charlotte. With the return of the Hornets name and our team on the rise, we feel like this is the perfect time for Charlotte to host an All-Star Game and we are confident in our chances for success.

Among those who are hopeful that the Hornets will come out on the winning end is Olympic track star Manteo Mitchell:

If the Hornets are successful in their bid, it will mark the first time that the city of Charlotte has hosted the NBA All-Star Game since three years after the Hornets’ initial inception, per Brett Jensen of FoxSports.com:

The organization will have to wait at least a couple seasons to host the game since New York will do so in 2015 and Toronto has those honors in 2016.

There is a great deal of buzz surrounding the Hornets with stars like Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson already in place along with the recent signing of guard Lance Stephenson. Add in the presence of NBA legend Michael Jordan as the franchise’s principal owner and seemingly everything is working in Charlotte’s favor.

Hosting the All-Star Game in 2017 or 2018 is far from a done deal, but Jordan likely has so much pull within the league that it is safe to assume Charlotte will be able to secure one of those games at the conclusion of the bidding process.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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Why Charlotte Hornets Must Be Patient with Noah Vonleh’s Development

Sporting a 7’4″ wingspan, 240-pound frame and intriguing inside-out potential, Charlotte Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh is an exciting specimen. But his club should exercise abundant patience in the early going.

The 6’9″ one-and-done power forward out of Indiana is ready to gobble up rebounds, and he covers a ton of ground and space with his mobility and length. He can score via baby hooks and outside jumpers, and he showed stretches of solid defense during summer league.

Don’t confuse those promising qualities with immediate NBA success, though.

There’s so much more to basketball than size, dunks and smooth shooting. Youngsters like Vonleh need to learn about shot selection, passing from the post, pick-and-roll nuances and defensive discipline. And that’s just a small sampling of his homework.

Coach Steve Clifford and the Hornets staff shouldn’t depend on him too heavily during their push for the playoffs, because he’s simply not ready.

Vonleh isn’t an egotistical person or a selfish player by any means, but he’s still learning how to collaborate with his teammates on a possession-by-possession basis. He doesn’t have a keen sense of when to be aggressive and when to dish the rock to open teammates.

“(Vonleh) has a long way to go in terms of feel and basketball IQ,” explains Draft Express video analyst Mike Schmitz. “Doesn’t have a great feel for when to shoot, attack or pass.”

That’s unsurprising to some degree. After all, he’s only a year removed from high school. But even when you compare him to his fellow one-and-done 2014 draftees picked in the top 10, he’s inferior in several key categories.

Note how he lags behind significantly in assists per 40 minutes and free-throw attempts per 40 minutes:

When Vonleh catches the ball on the block or on the elbow, his diagnosis and decision-making are inconsistent. As Schmitz mentioned, the youngster has a difficult time quickly discerning what to do with the ball. He must learn to keep his head on a swivel and exhibit better court vision. That way, he’ll launch timely attacks and also avoid unnecessary turnovers.

The following pair of plays illustrates his deficiencies. First, here’s Vonleh with Indiana, catching the ball in the post with room to turn and finish an uncontested shot. Unfortunately, he never turns to look at the hoop, hastily tossing the ball back out to his Hoosier teammate in order to attempt a re-post:

That’s a classic example of him missing out on an opportunity to assert himself. At the very worst, that play would have resulted in a late-arriving help defender fouling him.

Next, we have an example of the opposite misdiagnosis: In summer league play against the New York Knicks, Vonleh drove into the paint and found himself double-teamed. He opted to attempt an off-balance, contested shot when a couple Hornets were open:

Vonleh ended up making the shot, but he should think twice once he starts playing against big-league opponents. His scoring talent isn’t quite good enough yet to compensate for mental mistakes.

The good news is that the basic tools are there. He has the talent to score in the paint with his left or right, shoot from the outside or face up his man and drive to the tin. He also could become a capable passer once he has time to grow comfortable in Charlotte’s system. Once his knowledge and experience catch up with his physical skills, he’ll be a top-tier stretch 4.

His less-than-refined instincts and poor choices extend to the defensive side as well. Vonleh averaged 4.1 fouls per 40 minutes in college, and he continued hacking away during summer league. He committed 8.2 fouls per 40 minutes, which is high even when you consider the coaches aren’t worried about foul trouble (there’s no foul limit in summer league).

In the post, he’s actually a solid one-on-one defender, as he squares up his man and uses strength and size to deter shot attempts. But in help-defense scenarios, he’s either out of position or uses bad judgement when contesting from the weak side.

Robert White of Prospect Next broke down the big fella’s play in Vegas, and he noticed the defensive lapses on the glass and in half-court sets: “He would at times produce a lackadaisical effort in boxing out or free up his man in dangerous spots by chasing unrealistic help attempts.” 

It’s going to take a combination of film work, practice repetitions and game experience for him to create good habits and put himself in better position. That might take some time, especially on Clifford’s defense-oriented club.

If his help-side footwork gradually improves, he’ll be much more efficient on that end and grow into an imposing defender.

It’s easy for onlookers to demand better decision-making, as they desperately want him to make a big impact as soon as possible. But the truth is that it’s not easy to fully grasp every sequence at the NBA level, especially amid the speed of the game.

Clifford knows this, so he’ll feed Vonleh experience in moderate doses, as he explained to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

“You’ve got to give (young players) time to grow and put them in situations where they can grow at the pace that works for them. We have to have Noah’s best interest and progress in mind…It’s not fair to throw him out there night after night against starters.”

For some one-and-done power forwards (think Tristan Thompson or Zach Randolph) or international imports (think Serge Ibaka), it takes a couple years before they become a meaningful part of the rotation. Vonleh could enjoy a similar, gradual rise to prosperity in Charlotte.

Not only must the Hornets coaches practice patience as they nurture this newcomer, but the front office should avoid hastily judging their investment and fans should give him a couple years to develop.


Dan O’Brien covers the NBA and NBA draft for Bleacher Report.


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Court case for Hornets’ Hairston moves to Sept. 12 (Yahoo Sports)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The assault and battery case involving Charlotte Hornets rookie guard P.J. Hairston has been rescheduled for September.

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