Charlotte Hornets NBA 2016-2017 Season Preview: Nicolas Batum and the curious case of Marco Belinelli

Charlotte Hornets NBA 2016-2017 Season Preview: Nicolas Batum and the curious case of Marco Belinelli

Last season was a breakout for the Charlotte Hornets as they reached the first round of the playoffs for the first time. So much so that they offered Nicolas Batum a maximum contract and added other assets to duplicate their feat.

Last season, the Hornets went aggressive when they took in Batum, Jeremy Lamb, and Jeremy Lin. The team underwent a massive transition that earned them a 48-34 win-loss record and a spot in the playoffs. They may have lost to the Miami Heat in seven games but the Hornets showed that with dedication and hard work things get done.

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With the free agency season this summer, the Hornets secured Batum with a five-year maximum offer worth $120 million. Aside from Batum, the Hornets also retained Marvin Williams and expected to have another fine season with Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

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The Hornets bid farewell to Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee. However, they brought in Ramon Sessions, big man Roy Hibbert, and Marco Belinelli. Many may have questions of why the Hornets gave out so much to take in an aging Belinelli in return, but it reality Batum was the reason.

Steve Reed of the Associated Press reported that the Hornets went up to Batum and asked his thoughts about the Italian baller. Batum’s response was to “get him now.” Notably, Batum has high respect to the 30-year old Belinelli and his leadership skills on and off the court. With Batum’s blessings, the Hornets sent Malachi Richardson to the Kings for Belinelli.

“I don’t think people understand, he’s a great player,” Batum said of Belinelli.

Belinelli had the worst season in his NBA career with the Kings shooting 38.6 percent from the field including a 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. He averaged 10.2 points with 1.9 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game.

Belinelli is hoping to bounce back from last season and prove why he was also once part of the deadly bench of the San Antonio Spurs. It will be interesting to see how Batum and Belinelli will work together when the preseason starts.

It seems that Batum is running the show in how the Hornets locker room would look like and they hope he is not making a mistake. Aside from Belinelli, Batum speaks highly of teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

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Kidd-Gilchrist was not able to showcase his basketball skills because of various injuries. Good thing he was able to sign a $52 million four-year contract extension with the Hornets that secured his basketball tenure in the NBA.

Batum told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer that they are hoping to get Kidd-Gilchrist healthy for the coming season. Kidd-Gilchrist gives the Hornets an aggressive defense and a balance in the offense. Having Kid-Gilchrist could ultimately compliment Batum in spreading the floor.

“When we started making our big move from around 12th (in the East) to (a four-way tie for) the third spot, it was early February. That’s when MKG came back. That was no coincidence,” Batum added.

The Hornets may have some questionable pieces this season, but definitely, they are there for a specific reason. Batum, in particular, knows why they assemble such roster this season and that is surpassing what they achieved last season.

Photo Courtesy: HugoTHornet/Wikimedia