As the NBA regular season has passed by, it comes time to look back on the 2017-2018 season. Through all the ups and downs, the Charlotte Hornets have had their fair share of nominees for regular season awards, even if things ended far short of what was expected.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard
It seems like ex-GM Rich Cho made one great transaction other than drafting Kemba Walker during his tenure. After being acquired in the 2017 offseason, there was speculation at the beginning of the season into whether Howard could bounce back from his down year in Atlanta. In all, Howard showed this season that he still deserves to be one of the best defenders in the league. This season, Howard has averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game, while being second on the team in defensive plus-minus. In terms of the whole NBA, Howard was 11th in the league in defensive win shares, 10th in block percentage, and an impressive 3rd in defensive rebound percentage. These numbers aren’t the only factor that makes him an elite defender. His mere presence in the paint forces opponents to question driving inside. While it didn’t translate to the customary elite defense we’ve
Honorable mentions- Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Treveon Graham
Coach of the Moment/Year: Stephen Silas
When Hornets head coach Steve Clifford went down with a health scare in December of 2017, fans of the team had called the season quits. But, the work of one Stephen Silas rejuvenated the team as well as the fanbase. Throughout his stint as interim head coach, Silas recorded a 9-13 record in the twenty-four games coached. The reason Silas should be considered for this is because the Hornets fall off a cliff when he took over. Throughout NBA history, there are cases of which interim head coach completely turned a team from modest to the bottom of the league. This is most recently seen in J.B Bickerstaff and the Memphis Grizzlies. Silas could have brought the Hornets down to that level of unsuccessful play, but instead, he helped the Hornets remain float and had a modest thirty-eight percent win percentage as an interim coach. The reason why this award isn’t attributed the Steve Clifford is that he yet again placed the Hornets in a situation where they’re outside of the playoffs looking in, through the dire stretch of the regular season.
Gif of the Year: Marvin Williams
What’s not to love when Marvin Williams cheers from the bench!
Most Improved/ 6th Man of the Year– Jeremy Lamb
With more playing time and improvement over the offseason, Jeremy Lamb looked ready to go as a quality bench player. However after Batum suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow, Clifford quickly called on Lamb to fill in at the starting shooting guard. As hoped for, Lamb burst onto the scene for the start of the 2017-2018 season. He scored fifteen points in the first game against Detroit, and followed that with eight straight games of 17 or more points per game. He also scored a career-high 27 points against the San Antonio Spurs. When Batum came back six weeks later and Lamb was forced to go on the bench, he still performed. Lamb was third on the team with 12.9 points, and fourth on the team in steals per game at 0.85. He is also third on the team in assists per game with 2.3 His steals per game and 3-point percentage is all career highs for Lamb.
Lamb has come from a laughable bust draft pick to a skilled versatile scorer. From sitting on the bench the majority of the game to averaging more than 12 points per game. There is no doubt that he is the teams’ most improved player.
Honorable mentions- Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller
Least Improved Player of the Year: Nicolas Batum
If Batum has proved one thing this season, it is that he isn’t the player he used to be. After having a solid two years in the Queen City, Batum took a major step back this season. This year Batum averaged lows in points, assists, and rebounds. Throughout the season it felt as if he was afraid to be aggressive, especially towards the clutch situations of the ball game. Sure, he has not had the healthiest of seasons with the UCL tear in the preseason. Even with his injury, Batum showed a lack of efficiency in the major three areas of basketball. This is very concerning for the Hornets organization as Batum is the second highest paid player on the team with the salary of $23.4 million. Here’s to a new and improved 2018-2019 Batum.
Honorable mentions- Michael Carter-Williams, Marvin Williams
Most Valuable Player: Kemba Walker
There is no doubt that the Hornets’ MVP is Kemba Walker. He put up another All-Star season by averaging 22.1 and 5.6 assists per game. He has single-handedly carried this Hornets team time and time again this season, consistently playing at an elite level. It sometimes feels like he is the only one that can provide scoring on the court in certain situations. On top of this, Walker has accomplished scoring 40 points in multiple games. This season, Kemba scored his 10 3-pointers in a game, which was a franchise record. Walker also achieved the most 3’s and most points in franchise history, passing the great Dell Curry. Kemba Walker is the only reason why the Hornets aren’t in contention for the Top 5 pick in this years’ draft; and for that, he is the undisputed MVP of the team.
Honorable mention- Dwight Howard