Creating the ultimate Hornets team

By Jeff Linville - [email protected]

Jeff Linville News Editor

In late August, 2K Sports released information on its newest basketball video game. Part of the game is an all-time roster for each franchise.

Who is thinking basketball in August? But now, the NBA season has begun, and ACC teams are kicking off play this weekend. Now feels like an appropriate time to discuss the video game’s attempts at compiling an all-time roster for the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets are still a comparably young team, having joined the league in the late 1980s. The Celtics and Lakers had racked up display cases full of trophies by then.

The Celtics have had so much success over so many decades that their roster has to decide which Hall of Famers to leave off. Charlotte has never had a player who predominantly played for the Hornets/Bobcats make the Hall. Not one.

That does make picking the list a little harder.

Still, it’s hard to argue with most of the picks that were made.

The starting five on the video game are PG Kemba Walker, SG Eddie Jones, SF Glen Rice, PF Larry Johnson and C Alonzo Mourning.

The reserves are point guards Muggsy Bogues, Baron Davis and Raymond Felton; shooting guards Dell Curry and Kendall Gill; small forward Stephen Jackson; power forwards P.J. Brown and Kenny Gattison; and centers Al Jefferson and Derrick Coleman.

Mourning, a seven-time all-star, might be the only player here who one day gets picked for the Hall, but he will be remembered for the Miami Heat. Still, he had three years averaging 21 points and 10 boards before making it known he would leave Charlotte in free agency, forcing the team to trade him for what it could.

That trade ended up netting Rice for a guy who was going to leave anyway, so I think the Hornets came out ahead in this deal no matter how much fans booed at the time. Rice averaged 23.5 points over three seasons, while shooting the lights out from long range.

Johnson came into the league as a force of nature. He won a national championship at UNLV and nearly completed a perfect season the next year before losing to Duke in the 1991 finals. He posted strong scoring and rebounding numbers his first two and a half years until rupturing a disc in his back that caused numbness and muscle loss in one leg. He never regained that explosiveness again, but gave two more effective years nonetheless.

Walker is the current team’s top scorer and only all-star. Because of his scoring ability, picking Kemba for the starting lineup probably seemed like a no-brainer to the game makers. I would argue that on a real-world team, there is enough firepower in that starting lineup that you really need a distributor instead of another scorer. Kemba has averaged 21 and 23 points the past two seasons, but his career assist average is just 5.4.

When the young Hornets were pushing Michael Jordan and Bulls to the limits in the early ‘90s, it was Muggsy Bogues distributing the ball and playing gritty defense. For a seven-year stretch he averaged more than 8 assists per game. I would argue that he would fit better as a starter with Kemba coming off the bench to provide a spark.

As for other PGs, Baron Davis was the real deal. I wouldn’t pick Raymond Felton, who got his numbers on a poor expansion team. If I picked another, I would go with an unheralded player who led the Hornets to back-to-back 50-win seasons in David Wesley. He played PG for three years, then SG for five years when Baron Davis emerged as a starter.

Dell Curry was always a sixth man in his career, so he makes sense off the bench.

Kendall Gill averaged 15.6 points per game in three and a half seasons, but he was traded away twice, so how important was he? I was partial to Hersey Hawkins who averaged 14.3 points over two seasons.

Stephen Jackson averaged 21.1 and 18.5 points in two seasons at SF, but he didn’t shoot a high percentage. He just shot often.

Jamal Mashburn had three straight 20-point seasons for the Hornets (two in Charlotte and one after the move to New Orleans), but his two-point shooting was never that accurate. He was more dangerous outside as a 36-percent shooter from deep.

Instead of either of them at SF I would pick Anthony Mason. The former Knick came to Charlotte and became a point forward, often handling the ball and initiating the offense. In three seasons he averaged 13 points, 10 boards and 5 assists. With his toughness, he could also fill in at power forward.

I would boot Kenny Gattison in favor of Mason. Gattison only had one season in double figures for scoring and only one year with more than 5 rebounds.

I completely agree with P.J. Brown (8.5 points, 9.5 boards in two seasons). His toughness and rebounding are essential for any team.

The most surprising pick for the video game was Derrick Coleman, who frustrated fans as much as entertained. He was a man of obvious talent who didn’t always seem to give great effort. If he had had P.J.’s motor, he would have made the Hall of Fame.

Emeka Okafor averaged 14 points and 10 boards in five seasons. Vlade Divac gave 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3 assists and a couple of blocks in two years. Either would be better than Coleman.

And of course, the greatest insult of all was leaving off Gerald Wallace, a guy known only for winning a slam dunk contest until he arrived in Charlotte then became the face of the franchise. He had five great seasons before he ever got an all-star berth and gave the city seven wonderful years as the greatest player of the Bobcat era.

So my lineup would be:

Starters: PG Bogues, SG Jones, SF Rice, PF Johnson, C Mourning

Bench: PGs Walker, PG Davis, PG/SG Wesley, SF Wallace, SF/PF Mason, PF Brown, C Jefferson

Reserves: SG Hawkins, SF Jackson, C Okafor

Jeff Linville News Editor Linville News Editor

By Jeff Linville

[email protected]

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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