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Three stories to watch for the Charlotte Hornets in 2017

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The Charlotte Hornets underwent a massive overhaul this season, changing the lineups and bringing in new talent. With so many changes, there will be plenty of players and developments to keep track of this season. Here are the three storylines worth your time.

Kemba Walker’s leadership

Like a fine wine, Kemba Walker has gotten better and better year after year. He has progressed his game tremendously by working on his shot selection, shooting technique, and field vision.

In 2016, Walker finished seventh in the league in three-pointers made per game (3), sixth in total three-point shots made (240), and tied for fifth in three-point shots attempted (8). He became just the eleventh player in NBA history to make 240 three-point attempts.

It will be interesting to see where this season takes him, with a variety of new players at his disposal including Malik Monk and Dwight Howard. Walker has claimed his stake on the Hornets and the respect he has earned from his teammates is evident.

On paper, the Hornets have a great roster that should be able to accomplish all the right things, but it will come down to Walker leading the team in the right direction, on and off the court. Everyone must play together in order to succeed and his passing can involve every player on the floor. The Hornets seem poised for a breakout and Walker can lead the way.

The resurgence of Nic Batum

Nicolas Batum can be the best player on the floor at times, running the offense and exposing defenders with his veteran-like wisdom. However, he saw a big drop in his three-point percentage and overall shooting percentage in 2016. Batum was still heavily involved in the offense, but he seemed to be less effective in terms of his overall contribution.

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He can turn in triple-double like numbers on a nightly basis due to his length and speed, making him a possible centerpiece on offense every game. After having a career year in 2015, Batum was signed to a massive 5-year $ 120,000,000 contract. Not surprisingly, the quality of his play went down the year after this big deal, as it always seems to work that way.

There is no doubt that he will pick his game back up to an elite level and head coach Steve Clifford isn’t afraid to feed the ball to Batum, even if he is struggling. He is the most complete player on the Hornets roster and will need to be heavily involved in the game plan if the team plans on recreating their magic from the 2015 season.

The reunion of Dwight Howard and Steve Clifford

Dwight Howard has come to be recognized as a “team killer” around the league in recent years. For the several teams that have brought him in after he left Orlando, they have gotten locker room problems and a bad attitude all for an exorbitant price tag.

Howard is one of the most prolific big men in NBA history but has not been able to find a true home after his dominant years for the Orlando Magic. Many cite his troubles on his coaches and how they handled him. Howard played the best basketball of his career under the direction of Steve Clifford, who he will be reunited with this season.

Howard posted career-highs in points, steals, blocks, and rebounds under Clifford, while also producing less drama. Clifford understands how to utilize Howard in the most efficient way, making this reunion sweet for the Hornets. With a young, developing team, the potential consistency he brings could be the cohesive factor that helps Charlotte reach the playoffs.

Clifford brings the best out in Howard and their relationship should help him return to form. Howard has always seemed like a happier, better player around the former Magic assistant coach, and Clifford will involve him heavily in the offense. Howard will be a superstar in the small Queen City and he may be surprised at how much fun he will have with the Hornets.

Yardbarker: NBA

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