NBA - SOUTHEAST
Arena: Spectrum Center
Coach: James Borrego
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
Charlotte Hornets Summary
The Charlotte Hornets have one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA, with the reigning Rookie of the Year in LaMelo Ball as well as a young corps. The team has undergone some changes over the years since it was first formed for the 1988-89 season as an expansion squad, moving from the Charlotte area, then being formed again as an expansion team again.
Ball, Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward, and Terry Rozier lead a group that last made the postseason in 2016 but seem to be on their way to a possible playoff berth as soon as 2021-22. There is plenty of talent for head coach James Borrego and hopefully, push to new heights in the future.
Charlotte Hornets History
The original Charlotte Hornets franchise was one of two expansion franchises added to the NBA for the 1988-89 season (along with the Miami Heat), and the team had some success after a couple of high draft picks in the early years. Larry Johnson was the No. 1 pick in 1991, and he was joined by No. 2 overall pick Alonzo Mourning in 1992 to form an exciting duo that the team hoped would lead it to a title.
Despite an upset of the Boston Celtics in their first playoff trip, the Hornets had trouble sustaining the success, eventually trading away both Mourning and Johnson. The team had more success from 1997-98 to 2001-02, making the conference semifinals three times, but then the team was moved to New Orleans in the 2002 offseason.
After a two-year gap of no professional basketball in North Carolina, the Charlotte Bobcats were created as an expansion team for the 2004-05 season. Despite the presence of Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor in the team’s first season, the team suffered through five straight campaigns without a playoff appearance.
The New Orleans team decided to change its name from the Hornets, so in 2014-15, the Charlotte franchise worked a deal to not just take the Charlotte Hornets name but also the history of the original Charlotte Hornets team. NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan has owned the franchise since 2010, but the current incarnation of the team has yet to win a playoff series, making just three playoff appearances since the first season of the Bobcats in 2004-05.
2021-22 Key Stats
While the Hornets didn’t make the playoffs in 2020-21, they did earn their way into the new play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference, falling to the Indiana Pacers in the first round as the No. 10 seed in the conference standings. It was a step towards the postseason, with the young corps gaining some good experience of a playoff chase down the stretch of the regular season as well as the play-in game.
The Hornets enter the 2021-22 season with one of the youngest rotations in the league, with only Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee expected to get regular playing time and being older than 30. As the team continues to mature and play together, the hope is that the play-in tournament will be a thing of the past, with the team earning a playoff spot the old-fashioned way.
Championships Won by the Charlotte Hornets
There have not been any NBA, conference, or division titles won by the Hornets in franchise history, but there have been a number of individual awards won by members of the team. Rookie of the Year has been the award that has been won the most often, with three different Charlotte players earning the honor.
No. 1 overall draft pick Larry Johnson was named Rookie of the Year for the 1991-92 season, while Emeka Okafor won the award in 2004-05 as the No. 2 overall selection by the then-Bobcats. LaMelo Ball earned the honor for the 2020-21 season after being selected with the third pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Long-time Charlotte guard Dell Curry was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 1993-94. The 1996-97 campaign saw Glen Rice win All-Star Game MVP honors, while general manager Bob Bass was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year.
Important Team Events
The Hornets’ history has been a series of moves, but the team is in a good spot now, with a lot of fan interest and an owner, Michael Jordan, that wants to keep the team right where it is. The original Charlotte Hornets were moved by owner George Shinn in the 2002 offseason, leaving North Carolina without professional basketball for two seasons.
Charlotte earned a second shot with an expansion team with Robert Johnson leading the ownership group. Though it was named the Bobcats for the first few seasons, the Charlotte franchise was able to strike a deal to bring the Hornets’ name back after the original Charlotte franchise (now in New Orleans) changed its name.
In a move that could pay off for years to come, the Hornets took a chance on LaMelo Ball, who didn’t play any collegiate basketball and only played the part of his high school career. Ball, the younger brother of NBA guard Lonzo Ball, played professionally in Lithuania and Australia during his teenage years. The move paid off, as Ball won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award despite missing 21 games due to an injury.
The Charlotte Hornets have had a number of All-Star players over the years, but none scored more points in a Charlotte uniform than guard Kemba Walker. The No. 9 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft spent eight seasons with Charlotte before being dealt away to the Boston Celtics prior to the 2019-20 season. Walker made three All-Star teams with Charlotte and finished with franchise records in points scored, games played, three-pointers, and free throws made.
Guard Dell Curry – better known now as Stephen Curry’s father – played the most games with Charlotte than any other player, logging 701 appearances over his 10 seasons with the franchise. A sharpshooter that usually played off the bench, Curry averaged 14.0 points per game and hit 40.5 percent of his three-point attempts while in a Charlotte uniform, earning Sixth Man of the Year honors in 1993-94.
Another guard, Muggsy Bogues, had a long career with the Hornets, finishing as the team’s all-time leader in assists and steals. At 5-3, Bogues was a hard-nosed defender, zipping around the floor to pick up steals and feed teammates for open shots. Bogues spent a little over nine seasons with Charlotte, averaging 8.8 points, 8.8 assists, and 1.7 steals per game over that span and being a fan favorite throughout his tenure with the team.
There have been 11 head coaches of the Charlotte basketball team, and Allan Bristow has the most wins of all of them. Bristow coached the team for five seasons in the early 1990s, winning 207 regular-season contests and taking the Hornets to the playoffs for the first time in 1992-93, with Charlotte earning its first series win by upsetting the Boston Celtics. Bristow had two playoff appearances in his tenure with the team.
Former NBA player Paul Silas had a pair of stints in Charlotte, coaching the team from 1998-99 to 2001-02, then returning to coach for a little more than a season from 2010-11 to 2011-12. Silas recorded 193 regular-season wins with the team, and his 11 playoff victories are the most in franchise history.
Another former great player, Dave Cowens, has the highest winning percentage of any Charlotte head coach, getting wins in 61 percent of the regular-season games he coached for the team. Cowens took the Hornets to the playoffs in his first two seasons, starting in 1996-97, including the second postseason series win in franchise history.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kemba Walker scored 12,009 points during his eight seasons with the Hornets, the most in franchise history.
Glen Rice won the NBA All-Star Game MVP as a member of the Hornets in 1997.
A Hornets player has won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award three times: Larry Johnson (1991-92), Emeka Okafor (2004-05), and LaMelo Ball (2020-21).
Allan Bristow won 207 regular-season games during his five seasons with the Hornets, the most in franchise history.
The Hawks have selected first in the NBA Draft just once, taking Larry Johnson out of UNLV with the No. 1 overall pick in 1991.