The top 5 Charlotte Hornets players: 1988-2002

The NBA season is quickly approaching, and the Charlotte Hornets have a new and improved brand. Charlotte welcomes back the Hornets, as the dreadful Bobcats are now a thing of the past.  Many of the younger readers will not remember the electric atmosphere and positive vibes that the Charlotte fans and players brought to the NBA from 1988 through 2002.  Here I will examine the top five greatest players from the original Charlotte Hornets and try to give my readers either
a) a nostalgic look back at some of their favorite players
or
b) a great history lesson on one of the NBA’s better franchises for over a decade.
#5 Muggsy Bogues
Muggsy Bogues was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1988 expansion draft and quickly became a fan favorite.  Bogues, who is only 5’3″, took command of the Hornets offense and grew into an above-average NBA point guard.  He played in Charlotte for ten seasons and helped lead the Hornets to four playoff appearances.  He, along with the #3 player on this list, guided C

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5 NBA Players Who Are Demanding Checks Their Production Can’t Cash

It’s never a bad way to do business, hitting the negotiation table and asking for as much as one could possibly get.

Of course, securing a significant raise and actually earning that money are two different things. There’s a decent chance the five players on this list will secure beaucoup bucks in their next deal but far slimmer hopes of them actually living up to the deal.

Teams won’t be paying these players for what they have done, they will try to compensate them for what they will do going forward. It’s an inexact science, one that could lead to bargains (Stephen Curry, $44 million for four years), rip-offs (Roy Hibbert, $58 million for four years) or anything in between.

Given the shelf life of professional athletes, it’s hard to fault them for attempting to maximize their earnings potential. But those massive checks will come with similar-sized expectations these five will struggle to ever fill.

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Heat Players Won’t Take Backseat Now That LeBron Is Gone

Mario Chalmers is making headlines in mid-September. With the Miami Heat a little under two weeks away from beginning training camp and the regular season still a month-and-a-half from commencing, one can’t blame the media for making Chalmers’ recent remarks a big deal. In a recent interview with Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick, the veteran point guard stated that everybody on the Heat took a backseat in their 2014 NBA Finals series loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Chalmers stated the following in regards to his performance during the Finals:
“Everybody in my ear, talking about ‘We need you, we need you to do this, we need you to do that.’ And then when it comes to the game, I didn’t feel involved. Like, you all talk about how y’all need me, but y’all didn’t put me in position to do anything. In previous years, if I was in that position, I would make sure I would go get the ball, I would put myself in position to score. I felt like this year, we all just took too much of a back seat …

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Predicting Who Will Be the 10 Most Hated College Basketball Players in 2014-15

A little bit of hate goes a long way in college basketball.

As passionate and devoted that fans can be toward their teams, part of what fuels that commitment is a healthy distaste of a team’s rivals and their top players. But certain players elicit a special level of disdain, either because of the way they play or how they operate on the court.

Some truly hated players have moved on from college basketball, leaving a bit of a void in that area. We no longer have Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft, Ole Miss shooter Marshall Henderson or Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart to abhor, so it’s time to find some new standouts to hate. 

We’re not advocating hatred in sports, rather acknowledging how it’s part of the game. The best rivalries in college basketball have hate as a main ingredient, with most of that enmity directed toward particular players.

Here’s our prediction of who will be the most hated players in college basketball during the 2014-15 season, listed in alphabetical order.

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Pittsburgh Basketball: The Most Hated Players from the Panthers’ Biggest Rivals

Fortunately for the blue-and-gold faithful who pack the Petersen Events Center, they’ll never have to see one of the biggest villains in Pitt history again. Tyler Ennis has left Syracuse for the NBA, and Jabari Parker, T.J. Warren and Okaro White are among the other ACC standouts who are pursuing opportunities in the Association.

Pitt finished fifth in the ACC in 2013-14, and when it did struggle, an inability to keep up with some of the biggest stars in the conference was at the root of its problems. So it’s probably for the best that most of those players are gone.

But when the Panthers begin conference play in the 2014-15 season, which remaining stars will be hated as much as Ennis was after his 40-foot leaner on Feb. 12?

To be clear, we at Bleacher Report don’t really hate these guys (including Ennis). But Pitt fans will if the Panthers don’t find answers for them this season.

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Ranking the Top 10 Most Underrated Los Angeles Lakers Players of the Past Decade

The American Heritage® Dictionary defines “underrated” as “To rate too low; underestimate.” In other words, rating the most underrated Los Angeles Lakers of the past decade is less of a science and more of a subjective exercise.

It’s also a lot of fun.

As a collective team, the Lakers have had their fair share of success and failure over the past 10 years, winning two championships and falling from grace and the playoffs a couple of seasons later.

They’ve also been home to a number of gifted players who, for different reasons, never seemed to quite achieve the recognition they deserved from fans, teammates, coaches, management and the media.

The underrated have shined under the best and worst of circumstances; through championship runs and dreadful debacles. Yet they all share that common thread of being underappreciated by some or all of the aforementioned groups.

This is that one list not occupied by the obvious recognized stars of the past decade, a small group that would obviously have to include Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace and Derek Fisher. Even Andrew Bynum, the mercurial center whose star burned brightly for a few seasons before burning itself out, would not be a candidate.

For those making the list of the underrated, only two of them remain with the Lakers. Did management let some hidden gems get away?  

You be the judge.

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Which NY Knicks Players Factor into Phil Jackson’s Long-Term Plan?

If the New York Knicks could reset their roster and start building right now, there’s only five guys Phil Jackson would keep. 

And that’s related to each player’s fit, purpose, upside and cost. 

This team has a number of over-the-hill, overpaid players who are essentially just taking up space and preventing management from being able to upgrade the roster. 

But that changes next summer, when many of the Knicks’ big contracts finally come off the books. 

Look for the following five names to stick around into 2016-17 and later.

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4 Players the New York Knicks Need to Step Up Next Season

Certain aspects of the New York Knicks‘ 2014-15 season are a given, like Carmelo Anthony scoring about two dozen points per game, Jose Calderon hitting three-pointers with accuracy or Iman Shumpert playing solid on-ball defense. Other things remain a complete mystery, especially regarding how the rotation will shake out around the new offense.

Each of the four players discussed below have locked up a roster spot for the year, though they project to be on the margins of the rotation. However, due to quirks in the depth chart, they can ingratiate themselves to the coaching staff and merit increased playing time through a variety of factors.

If these four can give effective minutes to head coach Derek Fisher, the Knicks will have a much more feasible scenario for playing postseason basketball in 2015 due to a balanced rotation.

 

Cole Aldrich, Center

Cole Aldrich offers considerable ability in one area where the Knicks remain sorely deficient: defense. In 2013-14, the Knicks ranked 24th in points allowed per 100 possessions, per NBA.com.

Since the New Orleans Hornets drafted him 11th overall in 2010, Aldrich has played in 135 NBA contests, averaging 7.7 minutes per game. He’s well on his way to becoming fully fledged as a journeyman, but he may carve out a place in New York. Over 46 games for the Knicks last season, he averaged 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes.

Veteran Samuel Dalembert, 33, projects as the team’s starting center, but he has not eclipsed 26 minutes per game since the 2007-08 season. In his last two seasons, he clocked 16.3 and 20.2 minutes per game.

Someone will have to pick up the slack, and Aldrich’s shot-blocking makes him a better backup center than other subpar defensive options in Jason Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani—all of whom can shift to the 4 with their scoring abilities.

As a defender, Aldrich shows no fear when facing elite players:

B/R’s Fred Katz wrote about one play in particular, where Aldrich blocked DeMarcus Cousins in March, displaying discipline in the paint underneath a pick:

Cousins’ feet leave the floor before Aldrich’s, not only showing the Knicks center’s ability to understand tendencies and fundamentals but also displaying an underrated athleticism, an ability to end his momentum as he gets to the restricted area and propel forward to stuff a dominant player at the rim.

Aldrich’s defense will justify his playing time as backup center, and there should be plenty of minutes going around with Dalembert starting.

 

Shane Larkin, Point Guard

The case against Larkin is fairly obvious. ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk put it bluntly: “Shane Larkin, the other point guard that came in the [Tyson] Chandler trade, will have to prove himself in order to get minutes. Even then, he’s 5’11″ so his size hurts defensively.”

By the same token, Knicks rookie head coach and five-time champion as a player Derek Fisher stands at just 6’1″.

Larkin turned in a strong showing through five games at the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.0 steals.

His play earned praise from Fisher, who stated per NBA.com: “I’ve always been impressed with Shane, even before getting the chance to coach him, and he was just great these last couple of weeks. … In a lot of ways, he was our most stable and consistent performer.”

Larkin had recently caught the eyes of scouts with strong play in the D-League last season for the Texas Legends.

Even if Larkin does not ultimately fit into the rotation for New York, he can increase his trade value by flashing that Summer League ability during the NBA season. Larkin’s name already came up in offseason trade rumors shortly after the Knicks landed him.

Strapped as they are for draft picks or trade assets, the Knicks must maximize the potential of any and all bargaining chips. The only other point guards on the roster are Calderon and Pablo Prigioni.

The Knicks have hung onto Larkin for now, and they will look to get something out of the talented young guard, his compact stature notwithstanding.

 

Quincy Acy, Power Forward

The NBA credentials of Amar’e Stoudemire and Jason Smith have been established already, but the Knicks acquired another option at forward by trading guard Wayne Ellington to the Sacramento Kings. In return came Quincy Acy, a second-round draft pick for the Toronto Raptors in 2012.

Acy does not have much of an offensive game to speak of, but he brings a stout 6’7″ frame to the frontcourt and can provide physical defense, plus strength on the boards. Acy gained a reputation for his large beard as a rookie, but his subtle value can be more difficult to discern.

He’s never started in the NBA and averaged 12.9 minutes per game in two seasons.

Precisely that lack of playing time highlights his value when on court. For his career, he averages 8.7 points, 8.9 boards, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per 36 minutes, via Basketball-Reference. The Knicks would revel in that from a starting forward opposite Anthony.

Injury concerns abound in the frontcourt for the Knicks with Stoudemire and Smith, not to mention Andrea Bargnani recovering from an elbow injury.

If one or two among that group end up as walking wounded once again, Acy could be forced into increased action, and the offense could likely afford that compromise thanks to Carmelo Anthony and the team’s stable of scoring guards.

 

Travis Outlaw, Small Forward

Once upon a time, from 2007 to 2009, Travis Outlaw efficiently averaged around 13 points per game for the Portland Trail Blazers for two entire seasons, playing 163 games in total. In each of the five seasons since, he shot worse than 42 percent from the field.

His scoring average has tumbled below six points per game during the last three seasons, partly owing to diminished playing time but mostly owing to the various injuries plaguing him for the past five years, including a broken foot and a broken hand.

To his credit, Outlawalso part of the Ellington tradepossesses the veteran experience afforded by 11 seasons in the league, and he must bring that to bear in subbing for Carmelo Anthony when the call comes at small forward.

However, last season with Sacramento, the offense scored 3.9 more points per 100 possessions with Outlaw off the court, while the team’s defense improved by only 1.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, per Basketball-Reference.

Outlaw will need to be a net positive in relief duty, or he will find his minutes pilfered by second-round rookie Cleanthony Early.

The Knicks lack depth at small forward, with a roster full of big-bodied power forwards and medium-bodied shooting guards. Acy lacks the quickness to play the 3 with regularity, with his body reminiscent of Ivan Johnson or Reggie Evans, so a lot is riding on Outlaw and Early.

Early’s opportunity sits in front of him, but the team’s margin for error is very thin for achieving goals like a playoff appearance. Early’s inevitable rookie moments could render him unpalatable despite the high ceiling he showed with the 35-1 Wichita State Shockers last season (48.4 percent shooting, 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game).

If Outlaw encounters injury or ineffectiveness, that will leave the team with few reliable options at the position, outside of shifting Iman Shumpert to reserve small forward or starting three guards and playing Melo at the 4.

Whether or not Early plays well is gravy considering the team drafted him at No. 34, and many rookies take time to develop.

By contrast, playing on an expiring contract and beginning the regular season at age 30, Outlaw cannot waste any time in proving his continued worth as an NBA player.

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3 Players Who Miami Heat Need to Step Up Next Season

With LeBron James now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat will no longer possess the significant talent advantage over opponents that they enjoyed the previous four seasons.

So, to a greater degree than in past years, Miami needs strong contributions from its role players in 2014-15.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the three role players the Heat most need to step up if they are to remain a top team in the Eastern Conference.

 

Danny Granger

Five years ago Granger was one of the NBA‘s best scorers. Now, he’s someone the Heat took a cheap flier on this offseason.

Miami can’t be expecting Granger to return to 2009 form, but it certainly needs the 31-year-old to perform better than he did a season ago.

Granger averaged 8.2 points per game on just 37.8 percent shooting from the floor and 33.6 shooting percent from beyond the arc last season with the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Granger simply has to be a more efficient offensive weapon and a consistent three-point threat to have value on this team, considering he’s not exactly a great defender.

His career resume says he can. However, his play the past few seasons says otherwise.

 

Norris Cole

Fresh off a solid showing during the 2013 postseason, Norris Cole showed continued growth to start the 2013-14 NBA season.

However, Cole had a disastrous second half, seemingly regressing as an offensive talent. He finished the season with averages of 6.4 points (41.4 FG%, 34.5 3P%) and 3.0 assists per game. 

As the numbers indicate, Cole still had difficultly running Miami’s offense, and his shot remains decent at best.

But Cole is a skilled on-ball defender, and if he can make leaps offensively, he could be a real help for this team.

If Cole enters his fourth year with the same abilities as he left his third, Miami might have to give point guard Shabazz Napier more playing time than it would like during his first year in the league.

 

Udonis Haslem

Haslem certainly had a tough go during the 2013-14 season. 

UD averaged just 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Also, his mid-range game, which used to be a huge weapon for him, was basically nonexistent. He made 25 shots from further than nine feet away from the hoop, according to NBA.com.  

Still, with Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis gone and wild card Shawne Williams entering the mix, Haslem should have a shot at decent playing time. 

Obviously Miami would love if Haslem could re-emerge as a shooting threat, but the Heat at least need him to excel on the boards and be a physical defender if knocking down 15-footers is truly a thing of the past.

It’s hard to expect a bounce-back year for Haslem, given his age (34). But Haslem’s also the type of player one doesn’t like to count out. 

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Kentucky Basketball: The Most Hated Players from Wildcats’ Biggest Rivals

When it comes to Kentucky basketball and rivalry, it’s usually a Wildcat player who is hated by opposing fans. However, Big Blue Nation has quite a bit of hate in their hearts when it comes to those who visit Rupp Arena or disrespect the Kentucky name. 

Whether it’s a talented player who continues to one-up Kentucky or a role player who may have said something during an interview, Kentucky fans make sure their voices are heard when it comes time for tipoff.

This slideshow will take a look at the most hated player to put on a jersey for Kentucky’s five most notorious rivals. 

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