Last year wasn’t especially a good year for Charlotte Hornets fans.
Seeing Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker wore coats and ties more than pre-game warmups is not a routine sight you’d like. What’s more Cody Zeller hasn’t really taken a big leap as expected and the Lance Stephenson signing turned out to be a bust, after all.
The Hornets passed on Justise Winslow to nab consensus College Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky ninth overall, which has probably the most complementary skill set to Big Al. But then again, however great the fantasy upside Kaminsky possesses, he is just 1.) a rookie, and 2.) had to compete for playing time with possibly half the team. (Yep, seriously.)
Gone are Noah Vonleh and Gerald Anderson, which was traded to Portland for Nicolas Batum, while Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Zeller will all be back. (See my point about Kaminsky competing for playing time with at least six players?)
Jeremy Lin is acquired through free agency and Spencer Hawes came in with the Stephenson swap with the Clippers. Jason Maxiell, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeremy Lamb, and Brian Roberts are also with the team.
Breakout Candidate: Nicolas Batum
Assuming cornerstones Walker and Jefferson come back healthy, the next best bet is Nicolas Batum. Many NBA fantasy fans know Batum is a multi-dimensional guy who flirts with triple-doubles every night and contributes in 3’s, steals, and blocks consistently.
The French version of a Swiss knife played hurt throughout most of last year but ended the season on quite a nice note, with averages of 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists while dropping almost 3 treys a game for the last five.
MKG may be more defensive-minded but Batum has already been there and done that, at least in a fantasy perspective. Furthermore, the possibility of Batum coming over as the starting shooting guard means an added positional eligibility which is priceless in fantasy basketball.
Bust Candidate: Any Hornet Power Forward
The Hornets crew at the 4 is probably the league’s deepest, with a combination of young guys and grizzled veterans with varied skill sets. That will make for a fine team in reality but that scenario is a value-killer in fantasy.
My advice is to stay away from those guys until Steve Clifford sees someone he likes that can get him a solid 25-28 minutes a night. Having said that, it might not even be good enough to merit a roster spot.
Deep League Sleeper: Jeremy Lin
Thanks to a bad situation in Los Angeles, Jeremy Lin’s market value has dipped considerably. But make no mistake about it, Lin is still a lock to give you double-digit scoring, 3-4 assists, 2-4 rebounds, and maybe a steal for 25 minutes a night. Being in Charlotte makes it a lot more viable.
Lin figures to be Walker’s primary backup and if Batum indeed starts at 2 with MKG at 3, the Taiwanese-American has a chance to finish the game alongside Walker, Batum, and Jefferson with Kidd-Gilchrist being an offensive liability.
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