One Team, One Stat: Deep offensive improvement for Hornets
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2016-17 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Charlotte Hornets, who took a huge jump offensively.
The Charlotte Hornets were the most improved offensive team in the league last season, scoring 7.4 more points per 100 possessions than they did the year before.
In 2014-15, the Hornets were the league’s worst shooting team, overall, in the restricted area, and from 3-point range. Last season, they became just the sixth team in the last 25 years to go from the bottom three to the top 10 in offensive efficiency.
The Hornets made the jump by shooting better, and more often, from 3-point range. They not only saw the league’s biggest jump in 3-point percentage, but also had the league’s biggest jump (by a wide margin) in percentage of total shots that were 3-pointers.
According to SportVU, the Hornets also increased the percentage of their 3-pointers that were catch-and-shoot attempts (generally shot at a much better percentage than pull-up 3-pointers), from 69 percent in ’14-15 to 76 percent last season. Charlotte led the league with 1,827 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts, 741 more than they had the year before.
Kemba Walker saw an increase in his usage rate last season, but benefitted from the additions of fellow playmakers Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin. Walker’s effective field goal percentage jumped from a brutal 42.9 percent in ’14-15 to 49.5 percent last season. That (+6.7 percent) was the league’s biggest increase among players who took at least 500 shots both seasons.
Marvin Williams, meanwhile, has been the Hornets’ best shooter each of the last two seasons and got 252 more shots last season than he did in ’14-15. He was one of six players to shoot better than 40 percent on at least 300 3-point attempts.
With their offensive improvement and their ability to maintain a top-10 defense, the Hornets saw a 15-game jump in the win column. They were one of five teams that ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. But they struggled (30.8 percent) from the 3-point line in the playoffs and couldn’t keep Lin, Courtney Lee or Al Jefferson in free agency.
Their defense will improve this year with the return of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the addition of Roy Hibbert. But their offense could take a step backward, unless new back-up wing Marco Belinelli has a big bounce-back from the worst shooting season of his career.
10 MORE HORNETS NOTES
The Hornets were one of four teams — the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs are the others — that has ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency each of the last three seasons.
According to SportVU, the Hornets took only 9.9 percent of their shots in the first six seconds of a shot clock, the third lowest rate in the league.
Charlotte had the league’s lowest turnover rate (12.7 turnovers per 100 possessions) for the third straight season.
It also had the league’s best defensive rebounding percentage for the third straight season, grabbing 79.8 percent of available defensive boards. That mark topped their ’14-15 mark (79.3 percent) for the highest defensive rebounding percentage since the league starting separating offensive and defensive boards in 1973.
Only 17.7 percent of the Hornets’ 3-point attempts came from the corners, the lowest rate in the league.
Season-ending starting lineup — Walker, Lee, Batum, Williams and Cody Zeller — scored 114.5 points per 100 possessions in 406 minutes together, the third best OffRtg among 53 lineups that played at least 200 minutes.
Batum had a usage rate of 21.5 percent, up from 14.5 percent in ’14-15. That was the biggest jump among players who played at least 1,000 minutes both seasons.
Walker took 47.1 percent of his shots from 3-point range after the All-Star break, up from 31.3 percent before the break. That was the second biggest post-break increase in 3PA/FGA (+15.8%) among players with at least 250 FGA before the break and 200 after it.
Walker ranked second in postseason usage rate, using 33.2 percent of the Hornets’ possessions while he was on the floor.
Hibbert grabbed just 15.4 percent of available defensive rebounds while he was on the floor last season, down from 21.7 percent in ’14-15. That was the biggest defensive rebounding percentage decrease among players who played at least 1,000 minutes both seasons.
NBA TV’s Hornets preview premieres at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 14.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.
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