7 Charlotte Hornets It's a team on the move, maybe deep into the playoffs this season, perhaps to a new city by the start of the next

Oct. 29, 2001
Oct. 29, 2001

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Oct. 29, 2001

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7 Charlotte Hornets It's a team on the move, maybe deep into the playoffs this season, perhaps to a new city by the start of the next

Success came quickly for Baron Davis, but it didn't inflate his
head. After leading the surprising Hornets to within one win of
the Eastern Conference finals, the 22-year-old Davis celebrated
by working harder than ever during the off-season. He spent his
vacation playing in three summer leagues simultaneously, training
and practicing religiously and later quarterbacking the U.S. to
the gold medal at the Goodwill Games.

This is an article from the Oct. 29, 2001 issue Original Layout

By the time he arrived at the Hornets' training camp in early
October, Davis was nearly exhausted. Coach Paul Silas, the former
Celtic and Sonic who won three rings as a player and knows a
winner when he sees one, told Davis to prepare for the season by
taking it a bit easier. "That's why our legs were fresh in the
playoffs, because Coach Silas has a good feeling for when to push
us and when not to push us," says small forward Jamal Mashburn.
"Baron is just going to keep getting better. I played with Jason
Kidd his first few years in the league, and Baron reminds me of
Jason--except Baron has more athletic ability."

At the start of training camp last year, Davis was merely hoping
to establish himself as a starter after a frustrating rookie
campaign. Now he imagines himself hitting the shots that could
put Charlotte into the NBA Finals for the first time. His
rigorous off-season regimen left him with a more muscular upper
body and, he says, a better touch from long range. Even before
the summer Davis displayed a deadlier jump shot, as his field
goal percentage leaped from 42.7% during the regular season to
48% in the playoffs. Still, he sees room for improvement. "I
could have played better last year," says Davis. "At times I
lacked aggression, but that's going to change this year. We're
going to always be on the attack and playing to my abilities, my

Davis will miss sixth man Eddie Robinson, who signed with the
Bulls as a free agent after an eye-opening season in which he
proved to be Charlotte's best finisher in transition. However,
executive vice president Bob Bass offset that loss by filling out
the bench with experienced players who should be able to keep up
with their ambitious young point guard. "Last year we couldn't
afford to run, because I had to rely on our first five or six
guys to give me some big minutes," Silas says. "I'm happy because
we're bringing back our starting five, and now we have a second
unit to give them some rest."

The newcomers include defensive-minded forward Stacey Augmon,
three-point threat Matt Bullard and point guard Bryce Drew, who
will come off the bench to spell Davis. Drew should also take
some heat off shooting guard David Wesley, who had to pull extra
shifts last year backing up Davis at the point.

The most important addition to the second unit may be the
familiar face of power forward Derrick Coleman, who says that
he's determined to overcome his disastrous performance of
2000-01, when he fell out of shape while undergoing treatment for
an irregular heartbeat. The 34-year-old Coleman is a career
17.9-points-a-game scorer who could be vital to the Hornets. They
averaged 91.9 points per game last season, sixth worst in the
league. Coleman will also help lessen the load on the offensively
challenged P.J. Brown, whose feverish devotion to shooting
practice this summer was a response to the likelihood that
opponents will exploit the new rules by double-teaming Mashburn
and Davis while daring Brown to make mid-range jumpers.

Injuries, Coleman's ills and Davis's inexperience contributed to
the Hornets' erratic regular season, when they were either horrid
(with a half-dozen losing streaks of four games or more) or
torrid (five stretches of four to seven victories in a row).
Davis prefers to focus on last year's playoff run. "We outran
Miami, and we ran right with Milwaukee," Davis says. "Those
playoffs gave us something to build on."

Yet curiously, even with all their promise, the Hornets'
anticipation must be tempered. The playoff landscape in the East
is more crowded this season, and Charlotte will be tested early,
when it goes on the road for 14 of its first 21 games. And the
greeting may not be all that warm at home. Season-ticket sales
are down in anticipation that the Hornets will move after this
season; in June the citizens of Charlotte voted to reject
construction of a new, $342 million arena. "I just sense that our
guys understand what they're up against, and they're going to be
ready," Silas says. "If people are looking past us, that's fine
with me."


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER OVERDRIVE Davis's off-season routine left him with less hop in his step but with a much-improved jumper.

enemy lines
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Hornets

"When Elden Campbell is playing well, the Hornets are very
difficult to beat; he gives them a post presence to go with their
guards and Jamal Mashburn. On their first three or four
possessions they usually try to get it to Campbell in the low
post to get him going. But there are nights when he gives them
nothing, and that really hurts....In his prime Derrick Coleman
was able to score over defenders inside. He doesn't look like he
has that lift anymore, but that may come back as he gets in
better shape after missing most of last year....Baron Davis is a
star, a leaper who plays with a lot of charisma. He maintains
control of the ball in traffic, and few point guards can keep him
out of the lane because he's so strong. If they try to reach in
for the ball, he uses his body to bowl them over. He's a point
guard with the strength of a power forward....Getting Stacey
Augmon, Matt Bullard and Bryce Drew isn't going to make up for
what Eddie Robinson gave them. He shot a high percentage from 17
to 19 feet and was their best finisher on the break....P.J.
Brown is a tough defender, and he can shoot pretty well from 17
to 18 feet when Mashburn, Davis or David Wesley penetrates and
kicks the ball out. He adds a lot to this team with his
rebounding and hard-nosed attitude....As always, they're going
to have trouble with teams that can take advantage of the 6'1"
Wesley's size. Davis helps because he's able to guard a lot of
two guards, but the Raptors with their big backcourt of Alvin
Williams and Vince Carter cause problems."

projected lineup
2000-01 record: 46-36 (third in Central)
Coach: Paul Silas (fourth season with Hornets)

PVR* 2000-01 KEY STATS

SF Jamal Mashburn 20.1 ppg 7.6 rpg 5.4 apg 1.12 spg 41.3 FG%
PF P.J. Brown 8.5 ppg 9.3 rpg 1.15 bpg 0.98 spg 44.4 FG%
C Elden Campbell 13.1 ppg 7.8 rpg 1.79 bpg 0.77 spg 44.0 FG%
SG David Wesley 17.2 ppg 4.4 apg 1.56 spg 42.2 FG% 37.6 3FG%
PG Baron Davis 13.8 ppg 7.3 apg 5.0 rpg 2.07 spg 42.7 FG%

PVR* 2000-01 KEY STATS
F Derrick Coleman 8.1 ppg 5.4 rpg 1.1 apg 0.62 bpg 38.0 FG%
F Matt Bullard[1] 5.8 ppg 2.1 rpg 0.7 apg 42.3 FG% 40.4 3FG%
C Jamaal Magloire 4.6 ppg 4.0 rpg 1.05 bpg 45.0 FG% 65.5 FT%
G Bryce Drew[1] 6.3 ppg 3.9 apg 1.4 rpg 0.67 spg 37.9 FG%
G-F Stacey Augmon[1]4.7 ppg 2.4 rpg 1.5 apg 0.73 spg 47.7 FG%

[1]New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 117)

"Davis is a star, a point guard with the strength of a power forward."