Captains' Blog | 2016-17
Looking Back, Focused Forward
Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will continue to check in with hornets.com periodically for their running 2016-17 Captains' Blog. Keep checking back to see what they have to say throughout the 2016-17 season:
By Kemba Walker, hornets.com | Thursday, Apr. 20, 12:15 p.m.
I want to start by telling our fans, I wish things had gone better. The season’s over so I’m pretty upset, of course. It stinks not going to the playoffs. When you get a chance to experience the playoffs, especially in the way we did last season going to a Game 7 and how competitive it is, how much fun it is, how much the home fans love it, it’s tough. Especially, when you know you lost so many games and so many leads, it’s just the kind of season we had as a team. It was tough. Now, I’m home watching the playoffs on T.V., which I hate. There are some positives though – I can get some rest, recover from injuries and things like that, but it’s definitely disappointing.
I can’t really pinpoint what the difference was in finishing games this season as opposed to last season. I can’t really put my finger on it, but defense was definitely key. We weren’t consistent all year. We played in spurts all year, which really hurt us. We just made so many mistakes night in and night out that we thought we could correct, but it just never happened for us. We could just never really get over the hump, especially in close-game situations this year. We just couldn’t figure it out, which stinks because we’re usually pretty good, especially defensively down the stretch in close games. So, that’s something we need to be better with next season and I’m sure we will.
For me personally, this season meant a lot. I really tried to take my game to the next level. I made it to the All-Star game and hope I represented Charlotte well. I’ve also been told that I had one of the top individual seasons for any player that’s ever taken the court for a Charlotte team. That’s pretty cool. There’s some great names that have come through this organization. For me to put my name up there with some of those guys has made it a special year individually for me and hopefully there’s more to come.
But missing the playoffs is definitely going to fuel me a lot, especially seeing some of the teams out there I feel like we could have competed with in a playoff series. It’s definitely going to fuel me a lot. When that time comes, I’m definitely going to put some major work in but am going to take this chance to get some rest first. I’m pretty tired. My body’s pretty tired, so I just have to get myself together. Get my mind right, get my body right, just try to get healthy, and just get after it in a couple weeks.
This offseason I’m just going to be getting my body right – getting healthier, stronger, and just get in tip-top shape. That’s really my goal for next season. That’s my goal for next year, to be in the best shape I can be. Summers are important for us as basketball players to really improve our games. I take summers really seriously. I think everyone should. I definitely would like my teammates to get better too, and I know that they will. A lot of these guys don’t really need me much to say anything. These guys are just natural hard-workers, honestly. Especially guys like Marvin, MKG and Nic - I’m definitely going to be in touch with those guys, but I fully expect those guys to put work in over the summer. Hopefully we can get some guys here in Charlotte, a lot of guys so we can get up and down a little bit. We don’t play much in the summer so I think that’s something we should change a little bit. I’m ready for us to get back after it. Our work starts now!
Soaking in the All-Star Experience
By Kemba Walker, hornets.com | Friday, Feb. 17, 6:16 p.m.
Today was our media availability at the hotel and I tell you what, all of the media attention that surrounds you at All-Star is pretty cool and the media was all over it at our media availability today. It’s not as much media as we usually get on a daily basis before and after our games back home in Charlotte. It was really cool. I’m enjoying this experience and just trying to soak it all in as much as I can. The media has been great – I’m just enjoying myself a lot.
After that, I got to go with Head Coach Brad Stevens, Kyle Lowery, DeMar DeRozan and Isaiah Thomas to Tulane for a Jr. NBA clinic. It was really fun doing the Jr. NBA Clinic with all the kids. They were super excited and enjoyed themselves. I’m just glad that I was able to be a part of this experience with them and was glad to be one of the guys that helped them create memories. It was cool. It means a lot to be able to spend time with the kids. They show a lot of love and I appreciate that love. It means a lot to be able to be with them all for a little while. I really enjoyed it!
While I was there though, I learned something new from Coach Stevens about a grudge I guess he’s had because my UConn team beat his Butler team for the NCAA National Championship back in 2011. He just told me he wasn’t over it! My team beating his team has stuck with him. At least it wasn’t really a blowout back then (53-41), so hopefully he’ll get past it on Sunday night and give me some playing time.
I’m running on adrenaline right now. We do a lot out here but it’s well worth it. We’re NBA All-Stars and this is the life we chose, or maybe this life chose us, but you have to love it. I’m loving it because you never know if you’ll ever be back here again so I’m trying to enjoy the ride, soak it all in and just have a great time.
I know one thing for sure, too. I’m looking forward to seeing Frank out there in the Rising Stars game tonight. It’s going to be fun and I know he’s going to do something hilarious, most likely, because he’s just a funny dude like that. I’m happy for him. This game means a lot. It’s called the Rising Stars game for a reason, so I’m really excited that he’s getting the chance to be a part of it. He’s been playing really well, especially as of late, so I’m happy for him and can’t wait to see what he’s got. Tune in!
Welcome to New Orleans!
By Kemba Walker, hornets.com | Thursday, Feb. 16, 10:15 p.m.
Today was a special day – not just for me, but for my family, my friends, my teammates and the city of Charlotte. My friends and family have been through the struggles and they ride with me. A lot of them have seen me grow up, like my cousin, my brother and my sister. My high school teammates are here too. They’re the guys I went to war with a lot coming up, so it’s important to have them here. I live through those guys. They played as well. I’m living for those guys and I’m living for a lot of other people too. The whole city of New York, the whole city of Charlotte. It’s been so much fun.
I wish I had a chance to share all of this with my teammates as well, but it’s been great to have Frank (Kaminsky) with me. He calls me dad, and I call him son. It’s incredible, man. Frank is amazing. He’s a really good dude. We came up together. He came out here with me and my family, which was really cool. He communicated with my family like he was part of the family. Man, it was actually pretty fun to watch. Frank is a really good dude and he’s really fun to have around.
Once we landed at the airport, JBL got us this bus to bring us through the city. Oh my goodness, the bus was super, duper cool. I mean, that JBL bus was cool, but it took us forever to get to our destination because of these small roads here in New Orleans. We made it though. I’m here and I do appreciate JBL for that experience. I also had the chance to take over JBL’s Snapchat account. It was pretty cool. I’m not really a big Snapchat or social media guy per se, but it was cool to do something a little different. I enjoyed it.
This year, the All-Star media circuit was a little different for me. I’ve been through these before in the Rookie/Sophomore games, so I just know what to expect. I’m better at answering a lot of these questions. I’m a lot older, a lot wiser. I just know how to take my time and just really enjoy it. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to enjoy every second, every minute of this whole experience. They did mix it up on me and threw in a kid reporter, so that was cool. That little kid was so innocent, but I enjoyed it man. He was really fun just being a kid even though he was trying to act like a grownup, being a reporter. He was being himself and I really enjoyed it.
It’s funny because being here tends to bring out the kid in all of us. It’s fun, man. It’s always cool when people get to actually see another side of us. They see us on the court and see us sometimes when we’re mad or when things aren’t going our way and we might get a [technical foul]. They might think we’re a bad person or something like that. We’re just competitors and when we get a chance to do things like [this], it’s a chance to let the fans see our personalities. That’s really cool. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.
By Kemba Walker, hornets.com | Thursday, Jan. 26, 7:37 p.m.
Wow, an NBA All-Star! This is a dream come true right here. It’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life. For me to get this opportunity now, it’s really cool. My hard work has really paid off. I’m excited. I’m kind of at a loss for words at this point, but I’m going to give it a shot.
I know a lot of people think this might be vindication for me. I mean, I didn’t make it last year, but it wasn’t a problem at all. You know I just wanted to put in the time and the effort to just become a better player just really for my team to win as many games as possible, but I have been playing well this year. I’m really excited that the coaches really have seen me playing really well this year and those guys voted me into the All-Star Game. I really do appreciate that.
I also appreciate the support of all my teammates. It’s been so cool. Especially just now when they announced the All-Star Game reserves. Me and Roy Hibbert watched it together and then after everybody just kind of stormed in my room. It was really cool. Those guys are always there for me each and every day. Their support is second to none actually. I really appreciate those guys. I love going to war with those guys each and every day. I mean, those are my guys. Those are my guys.
I’ve been on this team for the longest time, of course, and it’s been a really special time. Our fans have been special here throughout my whole career, too. We’ve had some really down times, so I know this is special for them too. I’m excited that they’ve really had my back for all this time. I love the fans in Charlotte – a lot. They’ve always supported us – in all the events we do with them, they always show up to support us and I can’t express how much I appreciate them.
It’s crazy to think of the group of guys I’m joining as a Charlotte All-Star. It’s a special club with guys like Larry Johnson (1993 and 1995), Alonzo Mourning (1994 and 1995), Glen Rice (1996, 1997 and 1998), Eddie Jones (2000), Baron Davis (2002) and Gerald Wallace (2010). It’s always great to be a part of history. For me, growing up I would have never thought that this kind of thing would happen for me and I’d add my name to that list. For me to put in my work, my time and my effort each and every day to get this honor, it’s just special. Thank you to you all and I can’t wait to get to New Orleans!
By Marvin Williams, hornets.com | Friday, Dec. 2, 2:11 p.m.
First off, I’d like to tell all the Hornets fans out there how excited I am about contributing to this blog. It’s a great chance for me to connect with our fans. I know that I’m out right now (with a hyperextended knew) but I’ll be back on the court soon. I feel great. I mean, physically, I’m getting better faster than I expected to. Thankfully, I’ve always been kind of a fast healer. I’ve been getting a ton of treatment, and I think that’s helped a lot too. Strick [Head Athletic Trainer Steve Stricker] has been taking care of it, so I feel really good.
It’s tough not being on the court right now, especially when you know you could be out there helping. That’s the biggest thing. I’m not playing so I try and help in other ways. I’m in guys’ ears out there. Letting them know what I see out there. So, I’m still trying to be involved as much as I can with everything but it is difficult when you know your guys are out there fighting for a win and there’s not much you can really do to help them. It’s tough being injured. I’ve been trying my hand at coach though, ha ha ha, and it’s been fun. There’s been a couple things that I’ve seen and obviously when guys see things and they’re not playing, I always ask them what they’re seeing. Sometimes when you’re on the floor, you see things differently than when you’re on the bench. Whenever I come to the bench, I always pull a player aside and ask them what they’re seeing out there. That happened to me a couple times last night when Mike [Michael Kidd-Gilchrist] saw some things in the pick-and-roll. I talked to him a little bit. I talked to Kemba [Walker] a little bit. Whenever I see things, I definitely let them know. It’s all about seeing the game a different way. When you’re not out there, sometimes you think you may be seeing something but when you come to the bench and talk to a coach or you talk to another teammate and they’re like, “Nah it kind of happened this way.” You need those extra eyes. It makes a big difference, definitely.
That hardest thing though is the waiting to get back out there. When they first told me in 7-10 days they’d re-evaluate me, I was excited because I was definitely terribly afraid when it happened. I keep my faith in God though. The doctors have been taking care of me and Strick’s been taking great care of me, so I think it’ll be sooner than later.
One thing about this team right now though is that I think everybody’s having a great time. We got off to an incredible start. I think guys were pretty excited about that. We hit a bit of a rough patch because we got away from what we do best which is defending and rebounding. That’s what happens when you don’t defend and rebound. You tend to lose a little bit more. I think guys realized that and they’ve picked it up. We’ve dealt with a few injuries obviously this year but whenever someone’s gone down, the next person has come in, stepped up and played extremely well and I think that’s a big testament to our team.
But you know I can’t have these guys not being up to the task defensively, so I’ve just kind of staying in everybody’s ear and trying to help out any way I can. The one thing about this year that’s different than last year is that we have Mike back. If I’m not out there, Nic’s obviously an incredibly smart player so he knows what to do on both ends. Kemba competes all the time every time he’s out there so he knows what to do on both ends. But having Mike back is huge plus the addition of Roy [Hibbert]. I think Roy’s cleaned up a lot of mistakes from this year, especially around the perimeter. Cody’s been playing phenomenal as well. We have a lot of defensive-minded guys. So when one guy kind of goes down, everyone still picks it up.
Finally to all of our fans, we can never thank you enough for the support. It’s been early in the season but the place has been packed each and every night. There’s so much excitement throughout the community for Hornets basketball and it does mean a great deal to us. We’re definitely thankful for your support and hope you continue to come out. Go Hornets!
Ready to Get Things Started!
By Kemba Walker, hornets.com | Tuesday, Oct. 8, 3:17 p.m.
It’s been a little while since I’ve had the chance to talk to you all Hornets fans, but I’m glad I finally get the chance to sit down and write another blog. We’re changing things up this season too and re-naming this “Captain’s Blog,” so you’ll be hearing from Nic (Batum), Marv(in Williams) and MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist), too. What a start for us, huh? It’s still really early in the season and 5-1 is great but we still have a lot of games left. We still have a lot of work to do as a team. There are still a lot of things we can clean up to become even better, but we are having fun out there. We’re doing all the right things. We’re doing the things coach wants us to do. Defensively, we’re playing really good. Sometimes, we play in spurts but that’s something we’re trying to do our best to limit. The less we’re playing in spurts, the better we become. It’s about consistency.
For us, everything starts on the defensive end. We were a Top 10 defensive team in the league last season and added a player like Roy Hibbert at the rim and had MKG return this season, which is huge for us. MKG is one of the better defensive guys I’ve ever been around. He takes pride in it and that trickles down to all of us. Roy as well takes pride in his defense. He’s such a huge presence in the paint for us. That just adds more dimensions for us defensively. Those two guys help us so much along with Marvin, Nic, myself and a lot of the other guys. I can’t wait to get big Roy back and (Jeremy) Lamb as well. With those two guys, we have an even better chance to win games each and every night.
We take pride in our defense I feel defense is all about “want to.” It’s all about having pride. We have a lot of prideful guys who want to play defense and know what it takes to play defense and know what it takes to win in this league. To win in this league, you have to be good on the defensive end. Guys in this league can score so well, so the more stops we can get throughout the course of a game, the better chance we have to win. That’s how we kind of look at it. With us, being in the right spots, communicating and getting stops are going to be the keys to us winning games.
One thing we’ve shown early in the season is that this team has a lot of heart. We’ve had to come back from double-digit deficits a few times already and knew we had to fix that. People can talk about things all the time. People are going to say they can do things. The thing I love about this team is we actually talked about it and we did it. Our first game against Milwaukee, we had a great start and from that point on we haven’t been starting really well. We were conscious of it, talked about it after the Brooklyn game and said we have to have better starts. We came out last night and had a great start. Now we see how great starts can help. We’re not going to score (122 points) every night. Last night was just pretty unbelievable. It gives us a chance early on in the game and helps us establish play. It helps us maintain throughout the course of a game. I’m just happy we can actually talk about things and go out there and actually do it.
For me personally, I’m playing at a pretty high level right now and it’s a product of putting in the work. Defensively, I sat down with (Coach Clifford]) and he pinpointed some things out for me defensively. He wanted me to kind of get back to the way I usually defend and I think I’ve been doing pretty well with that. He’s really good at helping me out with things like that. I’m just trying to be the best defender I can and trying to make it tough on opposing point guards. Of course, I’m playing against the best each and every night. I just want to be a two-way player. Offensively, I’m playing really well. I’ve been working really hard. I had a great summe shooting the basketball and trying to be confident like I did last year. I have to be consistent shooting the basketball and taking good shots. I’m just really playing within the offense. My teammates always find me in the right spots and I’m just making them. I’m making my shots and shooting it with great confidence. My staff has great confidence in me. My teammates have great confidence in me. That allows me to have confidence in myself. Yeah, I’m playing pretty well, but a lot of the credit definitely has to go to my teammates. They make great opportunities for me. Like last night, Cody Zeller’s screens are the reason he got the basketball. He set great screens for me when I drew two defenders and I made the most simple pass possible. He was able to finish at the rim on fast breaks. Then we have things like MKG running super hard and drawing two defenders. Our transition game has been solid too and we’re finding MKG in transition, finding NIc in transition. It’s my teammates. They just make things so easy for me. Things like Nic knowing how to get open and working with Cody and working with Marvin - those guys are just really smart guys to be around. They just make the game easy.
Overall, we’re just playing well. We’re locked into what we have to do and our gameplans are great. Our coaching staff does and excellent job each and every day to give us the best possible chance to win games. We’re up at practice 45 minutes to an hour the day before every game to work on our gameplan and our game prep. There is a lot that goes into us winning these basketball games. Everybody just sees us out there playing, but it’s the things that go before that. Our coaching staff is one of the best I’ve ever been around. They work extremely hard. They watch film. They put together excellent gameplans for us to win these games. Those guys are really good and we’re off to a great start. Now it’s up to us to keep it going!