Top 50 Charlotte Hornets

Entering the National Basketball Association as an expansion team in 1988, the Charlotte Hornets have had an interesting history, though not necessarily a successful one. Many speculated that the city could not support professional basketball, this despite North Carolina being a haven for the college game.

The pundits were proven wrong as though they played like an expansion team, the attendance was huge and they led the NBA in that category during their inaugural season. Charlotte suffered through the aches and pains of being an expansion team, but finally they made the playoffs and has a few good players which gave them national attention, though when they slipped back, the attendance wasn’t there and they fell to the bottom in that category and management moved the team to New Orleans following the end of the 2001/02 season.

While that might seem like it would doom professional basketball in Charlotte, the state had already shown it could support hockey (the Carolina Hurricanes) and football (the Carolina Panthers) the NBA wanted to give it another try and in 2004, the Charlotte Bobcats were born, though again feeling the pains of expansion.

Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, the team sought to come up a team that reflected their own region. For the 2013-14 season, they were renamed the Pelicans, and the city of Charlotte looked to get back their old name, which after one year they had. This is where it becomes very interesting for our purposes.

The new Charlotte Hornets absorbed the history of the old Charlotte Hornets, which splits the career of many “Hornets” whose best years are divided between New Orleans and Charlotte for our Top 50s.

This list is up to the end of the 2014/15 season.

Note: Basketball lists are based on an amalgamation of tenure, traditional statistics, advanced statistics, playoff statistics and post-season accolades.
While we can’t say we never really understood the Grandmama gimmick, Larry Johnson made an immediate splash in Charlotte and gave the team a “buzz” around the league.
While Gerald Wallace never had the word “Hornet” on his chest, with the amalgamation of Bobcats/Hornets history in Charlotte, this is the man who we are christening the greatest Charlotte Hornet of all time.
While he may not top the list, standing at five foot three, Muggsy Bogues is definitely pound for pound the best Charlotte Hornet of all time. Bogues spent ten years in Charlotte where the pit sized Point Guard continued to defy logic and was a fan favorite not only in Charlotte but in the entire NBA.
Dell Curry is the man who holds the record for being the all-time leading scored for the Charlotte Hornets. He also holds the all-time record for many other figures in Charlotte history, but his “low” rank stems from not being a superstar in National Basketball Association figures but from his slightly average stats over an extended duration as a pro in Charlotte.
Three for three. Glen Rice was with the Charlotte Hornets for three seasons and in every NBA campaign he was named to play in the All Star Game, the second of which would see him win the MVP for the game and cement himself as a must watch player. Rice would also go “three for three” as he would average over 20 Points per Game as a Hornet, which included a 26.8 PPG in the…
The Final Four MVP and NCAA Champion with the University of Connecticut, Kemba Walker has not had the same team success with the Charlotte Hornets but this does not mean that he has not put up very good numbers in the pros. The Point Guard is a very good scorer whose overall game has been improving year by year, and is one of the more underrated players in the NBA.
The second overall pick in the 1992 Draft (behind Shaquille O’Neal), Alonzo Mourning made an immediate impact in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets. Playing his first three seasons with Charlotte, Mourning would be an All Star twice and would average a spectacular 21.3 Points, 10.1 Rebounds and 3.1 Blocks per game as a Hornet.
Anthony Mason would put up some of the best numbers of his career as a member of the Charlotte Hornets. In the 1996-97 season, he would lead the NBA in Minutes per Game and that year would put personal bests in Points, Rebounds, Assists and Blocks per Game as well as PER and VORP.
The second overall draft pick of the Charlotte Bobcats and the first ever pick for the Charlotte Bobcats gets a bad rap in many circles. Many articles have been written calling him a bust, but the fact remains that Okafor averaged a double-double every season of his run in Charlotte and was also the Rookie of the Year.
Playing the first five seasons of his career as a Hornet (though only the first three in Charlotte, that cost him a few spots on this rank), Baron Davis came out of UCLA as the third overall draft pick and would become an All Star in his third year in the NBA. Davis would blossom into one of the better Point Guards in the NBA in a Charlotte uniform and he would continue that growth…
Undrafted out of Baylor, David Wesley proved a lot of people wrong when he successfully transitioned to Point Guard and put up solid numbers when he made his way to Charlotte. Wesley would put up his biggest Points per Game Average as a Hornet, though he was not always as productive as he should be as a distributor. Still, Wesley was a decent Point Guard for Charlotte during his tenure and warrants this high rank.
A Charlotte Hornet for three and a half seasons (plus another half season when the team was relocated to New Orleans). While Campbell would but up some of his best offensive numbers as a Hornet, he would also be known for his defensive skills, which would always made him a coveted big man in the NBA. It was not an accident that Charlotte made the playoffs three years in a row while he played there.
A surprise free agent signing, Al Jefferson came with a large paycheck and large expectations, and while Charlotte has not become a power in the East, Jefferson has certainly done his part to make the team as competitive as he could. In his first season with Charlotte, he would average a double-double and would make Third Team All-NBA.
Eddie Jones was already a certified star from his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he went to two All Star Games, however as a member of the Charlotte Hornets, Jones would make his third All Star appearance and put up his best scoring numbers as well as his best performance in PER.
Vlade Divac was one of the more popular players in the NBA, but for many in Charlotte, this is the guy who was traded for the rights to Kobe Bryant. History now shows that trade being a little lopsided (though let’s be honest, do you really see Kobe playing his entire career in Charlotte?) but history also shows that Divac was a very good player who put up good numbers in every metric.
Coming out of Bradley, Hersey Hawkins had a solid three year run (over two stints) with Charlotte, where he would put together a solid 11.4 Points per Game run. That may have been a lower statistically than he was with the Philadelphia 76ers years before, but his run in Eastern Pennsylvania helped make him a draw in Carolina.
The fifth overall ick in the 2005 NBA Draft, Raymond Felton was the Point Guard for the North Carolina Tar Heel team that won the NCAA title in just before his draft. Felton was not a champion in Charlotte, but Felton was a solid scorer and distributor in the pros.
While P.J. Brown would spend five seasons with the Hornets, only two of which were in Charlotte, which as you know for basketball history according to the NBA, only equates to two campaigns for this endeavor.
While Boris Diaw improved his overall game with the San Antonio Spurs (helping them win a NBA Title in 2014), the Frenchman did have a couple of good seasons in Charlotte before he ran afoul of management due to not being in the best physical condition. Diaw set personal bests in Points Per Game, and Rebounds per Game as a Bobcat, which is what got him to this elevated rank, but realistically, he is in…
Beginning his professional career with the Charlotte Hornets, Kendall Gill was a spectacular dunker who made the First Team NBA All-Rookie Team. Gill would become an effective scorer for Charlotte and in his sophomore season would average more than 20 Points per Game. Gill was a balanced player, who for whatever reason has fallen through the cracks in Charlotte basketball folklore.