The main reason the Charlotte Hornets are unable to stop the bleeding is their current injury crisis, but even when you ignore the Nicolas Batum absence and Jeremy Lin playing with a bum ankle, better basketball, ability and decisions should be expected from Kemba Walker and the man who should be controlling him, Steve Clifford.
Right now, the Hornets way of solving their injury issue and missing players is going through Walker. Yes, he’s averaging 19.5 points per game, but his defense often cancels out a lot of those points he scores, and he’s been averaging 21.8 shots per game during the losing streak. He makes 40.4% of those shots while hitting 29.6% of the 3-pointers. Walker isn’t as good as he thinks he is, and shouldn’t be dragging this team further towards ruin with this forced upon style of basketball.
We’re not suggesting Jeremy Lin taking over those shots fixes things. He’s playing with a still hurting ankle, which can be seen in his movement and especially defense, making him less aggressive and involved, with just one steal and one block in the last three games after missing the losses against the Raptors and Clippers. He isn’t getting any rest, playing 31.3 minutes a night in these three games while averaging 14.3 points. His shooting isn’t the problem anymore, but there’s only so much he can do right now, especially with the team playing a certain unintelligent way.
And fingers have to be pointed towards the head coach. Yes, Batum being out means the team defense is non existent at times, with one less player to make up for the holes Walker generates while letting players blow by him, but it’s more than that. The Hornets have failed to develop and keep a style that’s better for them than the isolation, hero ball Walker loves to play in so much. Making Al Jefferson less important by sheer luck wasn’t a bad move, but there’s more work to be done, and his losing streak shouldn’t be fought by digging into old ways, refusing to change.
The only good thing about meeting the Los Angeles Clippers, a team with seven consecutive wins, the longest winning streak in the league right now, is that it comes with three days of rest following their loss in Phoenix. Other than that, it’s hard to feel optimistic about the current crop of games the Hornets are facing. The injuries are weighing down on this team and driving them into the ground. Looking like a poorly coached group with one player getting the limelight without deserving it isn’t helping either.