Journal #29: Why the Hornets need to Stack the Team with Tar Heels, Blue Devils, and Wolpack Members
New York, more specifically New York City, is known as the Mecca of basketball. The City is home to three of the Top-10 most valuable sports franchises in the world, the New York Yankees (#2), New York Giants (#9), and of course, the New York Knicks (#3) (Ozanian, 2021). But what about college basketball?
North Carolina and Duke are among the Top-10 Most Valuable College Basketball Programs. Duke sits at #4, bringing in $35.4 Million on average in the last three years, and Carolina at #8, bringing in $29.9 million in that same timeframe (Settimi, 2020). NC State isn't in the Top-25, but they're still one of the Tobacco Road 3, so we have to include little brother. How ironic is it that Carolina is again #8 in something? The Charlotte Hornets, on the other hand, are the sixth least valuable team in the entire NBA, valued at $1.5 Billion (Badenhausen, 2021). So what could be done to increase the Hornets' value? My suggestion, bring in more players from the three schools.
There are 37 active players in the league between the three schools, a few of which are currently on the Hornets. From Duke, the Hornets have picked up Mason Plumlee. From NC State, we have Cody Martin, and from UNC, well, there's nobody (Real GM, 2022). With such passionate fanbases within the Hornets' market, you would think that they'd make more effort to bring in some players from the three schools to lure that fanbase into the Spectrum Center on game night.
Imagine this starting lineup. At the point, Kyrie Irving, while not the player he once was, could be an asset to a team like the Hornets. At guard, keep Melo, the Hornets' current most valuable asset. At small forward, throw in Jason Tatum or Brandon Ingram. Then at the power forward position belongs to Miles Bridges from Michigan State. Finally, in the 2023 draft, pick up Bacot. While not a true center, the dude is still a dog in the paint and 6 foot 10 inches. The right coach could make him an effective NBA center. I would find it difficult for most Hornets fans to be upset with that starting five.
The more realistic idea would be to stack the bench with Tobacco Road 3 players. Several players from the three schools would be affordable and efficient, and they are plenty of them. So let's take a look. Say we had that starting five. Say Bacot wasn't the starting center and we picked one up that was more seasoned.
Between Ball, Bridges, and an established center, the Hornets would have a starting five that could get past the first round of the playoffs. But, of course, that's a conversation for another day. As much as I hate the guy, imagine if Grayson Allen was on the Hornets roster. Duke fans would buy tickets to see his antics, and Carolina fans would come in to hate on him. Seth Curry has the name and could be a solid sixth man. Cameron Johnson could easily come in behind Ingram or Tatum. Nassir Little would be a great off-the-bench player. The list goes on. NC State has provided some players that could've been bench fillers, such as Dennis Smith.
Bottom line, keep Ball, Bridges, and an established Center, but outside of those three positions, start building the team with local players. Us Hornets fans are used to the team entering the playoffs and having a quick first-round exit. The new norm is quickly becoming make it into the play-in game and get beat. If Jordan will not spend the money, or at least better allocate the money, to make a title-contending team, at least give fans a reason to come to the game. Seeing their favorite players from college in action would be a great way to do that, especially in North Carolina.
Badenhausen, K. (2021, June 29). NBA team values 2021: Knicks keep top spot at $5 billion, while warriors seize no. 2 from lakers. Forbes. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2021/02/10/nba-team-values-2021-knicks-keep-top-spot-at-5-billion-warriors-bump-lakers-for-second-place/?sh=2a26cb91645b
Ozanian, M. (2021, May 14). World's Most Valuable Sports Teams 2021. Forbes. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2021/05/07/worlds-most-valuable-sports-teams-2021/?sh=5b1ba14b3e9e
Real GM. (2022). Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://basketball.realgm.com/
Settimi, C. (2020, March 20). College Basketball's most valuable teams: March madness may be canceled, but the top programs are thriving. Forbes. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinasettimi/2020/03/19/college-basketball-most-valuable-teams-ncaa-march-madness/?sh=3c22f264285d