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Welcome to Buzz City Beat, a daily roundup of the best articles from around the internet surrounding the Charlotte Hornets.

Despite dealing with a dislocated finger, Dwight Howard had one of his best games of the season and led his side to victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. In this edition of Buzz City Beat, we look at what the next step is for the Charlotte Hornets, how Kemba Walker continues to excel with a non-contender and the Greensboro Swarm losing to the Lakeland Magic.
What is the Charlotte Hornets’ next step? (HoopsRumors.com)

Still, it’s not clear what Plan B in Charlotte is. Unlike fellow 11-win teams like the Kings, Suns, and Lakers, the Hornets don’t have a plethora of promising young players they can focus on developing with things going south.

It’s unclear what the best move is for Charlotte going forward. They will have to choose between either re-tooling or completely rebuilding by tanking. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that changes are needed as what they are doing now isn’t working. With Rich Cho in the final year of his deal, the Hornets will probably look to re-tool by improving their current squad in an attempt to make a playoff push int he second half of the season.

Although, if they continue to struggle for long enough, tanking might look more appealing and a rebuild may be their only option. If Charlotte is still near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, their best bet is to cut salary and acquire draft picks/young talent. We’ll have to wait and see what the Hornets’ plan of attack is for the remainder of the season because right now, they don’t have a clear Plan B. What do you think the team should do?
Kemba continues to excel in relative obscurity (UPROXX.com)

Walker isn’t the first, nor the last, legitimate NBA star to languish in anonymity, which comes with the territory when dealing with a sub-.500 team in a market that does not generate national interest on its own. Still, it has to be emphasized, that Walker isn’t the problem in Charlotte, nor is there any real optimism for a future without him should he choose to leave in free agency at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season.

No matter how bad the Hornets have been over the past few years, Walker has always been a constant positive for the team. Despite all of his individual success, the all-star point guard has yet to win a playoff series in his two trips to the postseason. Kemba’s 3-8 record in only 11 playoff games can largely be attributed to the teams around him rather than his individual play.

If Walker played on a team that was consistently in the playoffs or at least was in a bigger market, he would not only get more recognition but also be one of the more popular players in the league. Whether it be in Charlotte or not, hopefully, Kemba can play on a contender one day. In order to increase their chances of keeping Walker long-term, the Hornets will need to prove that they can build a winning team around him over the next couple years.
Greensboro falls to Lakeland despite 31 points from Goodwin (Gleague.NBA.com)

The Greensboro Swarm (7-12) and Lakeland Magic (13-5) went back-and-forth but it was the Magic’s 8-0 run to close the game that sealed a, 106-102, Swarm defeat. Lakeland has won seven straight games.

Just when it looked like the Swarm were about to turn their season around, they are only 2-3 in their last five. Greensboro still has three games left before the new year and if they can win all three, they could move into the top-8 in the Eastern Conference. If Archie Goodwin continues to play well, this team could be in line for more wins going forward.

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New Orleans Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis has been diagnosed with a left adductor strain, the team announced Monday.

An MRI of his injured groin and further examination revealed no structural damage, and the timetable for his return will be day-to-day.

Davis missed Saturday’s game at Portland and will miss Monday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

Davis was on the court wearing team warm-up gear before the Pelicans played the Warriors. He said he has not resumed basketball activities.

“I just want to be part of the team. I haven’t done any basketball stuff yet,” Davis said. “I want to make sure that the pain has really gone away, especially since all I did was jump and it kind of killed me.”

He was seen using crutches Saturday night in Portland.

“It’s really hard to explain, but something I never felt before,” Davis said, adding that the crutches were a precaution while doctors were still trying to determine the precise nature of his injury.

“It’s good that they’re not finding anything, obviously,” Davis added. “That pain is still there when I do certain movements, so when that kind of subsides, then I’ll start moving forward.”

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was relieved to find out Davis’ injury wasn’t more serious.

“Very much so,” Gentry said. “The fact that he’s day-to-day, I think is great. We’ll just work him out, rehab him and see where he is every day. Hopefully [his return] is sooner more so than later, but we’re still not going to take any chances.”

“When it’s a noncontact injury, you always worry about the severity of it,” Gentry said. “The fact that it wasn’t — we all had everything crossed that we own. The fact that it isn’t and he’s going to hopefully play soon is refreshing to us.”

Davis has averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds a game for the Pelicans, who are 12-11 and only one game out of sixth place in the Western Conference playoff chase.

Davis, a four-time All-Star, was injured on a noncontact play in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz. Without Davis, New Orleans defeated Portland on Saturday behind DeMarcus Cousins’ 38 points.

Davis had been the Western Conference’s Player of the Week with an average of 25 points, 11 rebounds on 57 percent shooting for the Pelicans.

The Pelicans have home games against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Sacramento Kings on Friday and Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

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The Charlotte Hornets’ top draft pick was benched in favor of Michael Carter-Williams after the team lost six straight games.

Steve Clifford chose to bench his star rookie because he needed more defense. After losing six straight games, he chose not to play Malik Monk a single minute against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Charlotte Hornets‘ head coach said that “It’s not Malik’s fault, it’s just his position; [Michael Carter-Williams is] a difference-maker defensively.” (CharlotteObserver.com)

This was the first time this year that the 11th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft didn’t play in a game for Charlotte. He saw at least nine minutes in the Hornets’ first 14 games of the season. In a surprising turn of events, Monk has fallen out of the team’s rotation while second-round pick Dwayne Bacon is still getting important minutes off of the bench.

The Kentucky product saw 19.8 minutes per game was averaging 8.8 points, 1.9 assists and 1.9 rebounds. He’s been struggling to find his shot shooting only 34.6% from the field and 33.3% from the three-point line. His lack of offensive production hasn’t been enough to overshadow his poor defensive play.

Monk’s defense was a big question mark coming out of college. His size is making him a bit of a liability on that end of the floor. To try and cover up his defensive woes, Coach Clifford was playing Malik at point guard so that he wouldn’t be forced to cover bigger shooting guards. That worked while Michael Carter-Williams was out rehabbing from offseason knee procedures but now that MCW is back, it looks like the rookie has fallen out of the rotation.

Even though the 19-year old is struggling, it isn’t out of the norm for a rookie to have a rough start at the professional level. Even Lonzo Ball, who was the second overall pick, is having his fair share of problems in the NBA. It takes time for most first-year players to adjust to the speed and style of the league.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues going forward. If the hamstring injury that Jeremy Lamb suffered against the Clippers keeps him sidelined, it could mean a return to the rotation for Monk. At some point, you’d have to think that Malik will earn his minutes back.

It’s far too early to completely give up on such a promising rookie but for the time being, the Hornets need win games and Steve Clifford is electing to go with defense over offense. So until Malik improves his play on that end of the court or Charlotte’s defense as a whole gets better, it’s unlikely that he will see significant minutes anytime soon.