Optimism in Charlotte despite losing ASG
While it may be easiest to piggyback on the media storm surrounding NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to move the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte, I’d rather keep things positive.
Does the decision to move the midseason event hurt the city? Absolutely. Reports are estimating roughly $100 million in total economic impact will be forgone with this decision. The All Star game would have been the largest event the Queen City would have hosted since Barack Obama was in town for the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
Regardless of personal stance on the ever controversial House Bill 2, this is indeed horrendous news for all parties involved (except for maybe New Orleans). But rather than dwell on the negative, let’s discuss some positive storylines surrounding professional basketball in Charlotte during an otherwise dismal week.
While the latest news in Buzz City certainly stings (see what I did there?), there is still hope that Charlotte will host an NBA All Star game in the near future. With the likely destination for 2017 now rumored to be New Orleans and Los Angeles planning to host the event in 2018, there is already some preliminary traction for Charlotte to try this thing again in 2019. Clearly some political strides will need to be made before that becomes a reality, however.
In other news, MKG is back! Well, almost. After a season-ending shoulder injury in February, exciting swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finally looks ready to return to the honeycomb court this Fall.
Only 23 years old when the season begins, he is certainly the most under-the-radar “addition” to head coach Steve Clifford's 2016-17 rotation. A healthy MKG alongside Kemba Walker and newly re-signed Nicolas Batum could make for another entertaining playoff run. Remember, Kidd-Gilchrist is a supreme athlete, and when healthy he can do stuff like this:
As far as the Al Jefferson departure, I think the negative reactions have been vastly overblown. Joshua Priemski of SB Nation is spot on with his assessment here. Priemski notes that Rich Cho and the Hornets brass were not going to be able to resign every free agent, so they had to prioritize. He also explains how the offensive game plan has evolved recently, and that evolution inevitably hurt Jefferson’s fit in the system.
Al's still a very good player, but he wasn't central to the team's success like he was a few seasons ago. When Batum came on board, the Hornets shifted from a post-focused game to one that relied heavily on pick-and-rolls and off-ball movement on the perimeter.”
The Hornets, however, will still need offensive production out of their frontcourt. Marvin Williams is the only current Hornet that provided at least 9 points per game last season. Not to throw haymakers at a dead horse, but Charlotte ranked 29th in average points in the paint during the 2015-16 season.
Only the 32-win New York Knicks scored less in the painted rectangle last year. Not to worry Knickerbocker fans, your new point guard just compared your team to the 73-win Golden State Warriors so you should be fine.
Lastly, Al Jefferson’s exodus inexorably equates to more floor time for sophomore center Frank Kaminsky. As noted in my last article, the Wisconsin big man is getting even bigger, which I'm convinced will benefit him in the low post.
The 7-footer has always stroked the deep ball with ease, but he got pushed around a little too often on the block. Here’s hoping 2016-17 is the year Frank officially becomes Frank the Tank.
Christopher Kreider | @krydr1