Friday, 15 February 2019 17:41

'MATTer of Opinion' SPORTS COLUMN: Charlotte idling along at All-Star break

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Bathroom bans are no match for North Carolina's love of basketball. So it's great to see the NBA bring the All-Star festivities back to the Queen City this weekend after HB2. 

 

 However, much of what we've seen from the Charlotte Hornets the last handful of years has been mediocrity at its finest, in a business where winning means everything. Owner Michael Jordan knows that more than anybody else.

Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, in my opinion, had a lot to say during a press conference regarding All-Star weekend taking place in Charlotte. He made one thing clear, and that is that he wants the Hornets to be a winning team moving forward.

"I think it's still up to us, as well as the organization to make this city proud about its team. We're still committed to do that," Jordan said. "We still have a lot of work to do in terms of making our fan base even more prouder about playing in June. Yes, it's still a major focus."

So, it's clear that Jordan hopes to see this team competing in the playoffs this year. So far, the Hornets have been firmly in the playoff race — even if it is at the bottom of the top eight — but must finish this season strong if they want to accomplish this goal.

The Hornets currently sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 27-30 at the break. However, the Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and even the Orlando Magic are also in this playoff race and will all be a threat to the Hornets.

Speaking of the Magic, the Hornets faced them Thursday night in their final game before the unofficial halfway point of the season, losing handily 127-89. It was an important game for Charlotte going into the break and put the Buzz on a two-game losing streak.

It's tough to evaluate the Hornets, simply because when they are playing to win — like they should be right now — they are still a mediocre, lower-seed playoff team. Some (like myself) would rather the team just tear it down and start over, building towards the future.

But can you blame MJ? Who wants to lose? Losing stinks.

As long as the team retains Kemba Walker this summer and continues to add young pieces in the draft and free agency, they should continue to be competitive.

Already having two young assets in Malik Monk and Miles Bridges is important. The development of those two moving forward will be key, because this isn't going to be Walker's team forever.

I gripe quite often on The RO Sports Show about Charlotte's ability to be just good enough to be outside of the lottery come draft time, but not bad enough to get a top-five pick. However, how many stars have we seen picked outside of the lottery in recent years? Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert are just a few of the bunch. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the Hornets have hit on someone of that caliber yet.

With that being said, picking in the middle of the first round instead of picking in the lottery is not the end of the world. As long as you have an eye for talent, you can hit from anywhere in the draft. General Manager Mitch Kupchak did a good job in his first draft with Charlotte and has done a pretty solid job overall since taking over during the off-season.

The Charlotte Hornets are in good position to compete with teams around the league. Now, it's up to the players and coaching staff to take the next step forward with the front office behind them being all in on winning right now.

Last modified on Friday, 15 February 2019 18:11