Tom Sorensen

No matter what he calls it, Mitch Kupchak’s job revolves around the Hornets roster

Mitch Kupchak was introduced Tuesday as the new general manager of the Charlotte Hornets. Asked several times about his new team’s roster, what he thought about it and what he planned to do with it, Kupchak deferred, insisting that he was new.

My guess is that by Tuesday he was deep into research. But Kupchak, 63, wants to meet his players before he attempts to figure out anything.

Kupchak talked about data and interpreting data and how data acquisition is so much more detailed than it was when he was began his NBA career. He also said that gut feeling takes precedence over data.

“I would always go with my instincts,” Kupchak said.

Be interesting to see where those instincts take him. The 2017-18 season was one of Charlotte’s most disappointing. The idea going in was that this was the Hornets’ time. Players were under contract. Some extraneous players had been dispatched. Some talent had been added.

The idea wasn’t to make the playoffs. The idea was to earn home-court advantage.

The model didn’t work. Offense this season was sometimes hard to come by, defense was inconsistent and Charlotte’s opponents often played harder than Charlotte did, so rare for a team coached by Steve Clifford. Some nights, it was Kemba Walker against the world.

When their season ended Tuesday, the Hornets were in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 games below .500.

We know the major problem. Too many high picks were parlayed into peripheral players.

More than anything, Kupchak has to be a superior evaluator of talent. Opportunities have been squandered. In the last six drafts, working backward from 2017, the Hornets have drafted 11th, 22nd (traded for Marco Belinelli), ninth, ninth, fourth and second.

The roster does not reflect those opportunities.

Asked if the Hornets would rebuild, Kupchak said: “I don’t know if that’s the correct word or not.”

If Kupchak can find an alternative, he’s a genius.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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