Preview of the NBA 2021-22 season: on Charlotte Hornets. Data, results from the previous season, a look at their squad and future free agents, the objectives of the course, the player to watch and a forecast on the franchise.
- Market movements: departure of Malik Monk and Devonte ‘Graham; arrivals of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mason Plumlee.
- Backcourt: LaMelo Ball, Ish Smith, Terry Rozier, James Bouknight, Cody Martin, Scottie Lewis.
- Frontcourt: Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr., Wesley Iwundu, Arnoldas Kubolka, P.J. Washington, Miles Bridges, Jalen McDaniels, J.T. Thor, Mason Plumlee, Kai Jones, Vernon Carey Jr., Nick Richards.
This is how they face the season
The Charlotte Hornets ended the 2020-21 season as one of the projects that would appear to make a leap in quality this season. Already with the rookies and the signings that arrived a year ago, all the spirits in the franchise were raised, after what was the painful departure of Kemba Walker, face of the team in recent years.
Despite Gordon Hayward’s injury, these Hornets delighted and amused all the fans at the hands of the LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, PJ Washington and company. This team has plenty of future, but it must be accompanied by key veteran pieces to help its development.
The departures of Devonte ‘Graham and Malik Monk are sure to make themselves felt this season for the Hornets. But in principle, interesting additions have been made, with Kelly Oubre Jr. at the helm, to try to miss the players who have left.
The signings made by the Hornets office this offseason show us that the team will continue on the path of accompanying its young players and that they are expected to be the future of the franchise. Incorporations such as Plumlee or Smith show that Charlotte is not interested in hiring big-name players who can overshadow their promises, but they need other veteran leaders who are interested in accompanying the development.
Turning specifically to the analysis of the current roster, it’s a no-brainer to say that the Hornets’ outside game will be the least of their problems. His accumulation of bases and guards is the best of the team; while the biggest headaches will come in the inside game, where surely Plumlee will be the starting center but with only PJ Washington behind him to fight his minutes.
The Hornets clearly have no intention of being a team top of the Eastern Conference. But his goal this season will be to repeat play-in or playoffs to continue developing their young people in important games. These expectations will depend on how Gordon Hayward’s health goes, and how his youngsters continue to develop, who are joined this season by important rookies like James Bouknight and Kai Jones.
Bouknight (pick 11 of this year’s draft) is a great player with the ball in his hands, although his percentages as a shooter catch and shoot they have not been the best. It remains to be seen how it complements LaMelo or Rozier. While Jones (pick 19), a player expected to be the highest selected in the last draft, is a super athletic center who is sure to have fun playing with these Hornets’ point guards.
Finally, we must mention how little is said about James Borrego. The current Charlotte coach has a lot to do with creating a sense of belonging and great chemistry in the Hornets’ locker room. This union could be seen clearly on the floor last season, and they made the North Carolina franchise one of the most fun to watch basketball play (regardless of the result).
The player to watch
The bet of these Hornets is without a doubt LaMelo Ball. A player with great basketball skills, but who saw his hype for not participating in any college program; added to the previous experience of his brother Lonzo who had to endure being the focus of harsh criticism during his first years in the NBA, based not so much on his game but on the always unfortunate statements of his father.
With those controversies aside, Charlotte’s bet on Ball has been pretty good. LaMelo has far exceeded expectations of him for his first season. Even the youngest of the Balls won the Rookie of the Year award, with an injury in between that took him many games away from the courts.
In this second year, nothing but growth is expected for LaMelo; and that with all his potential he takes full control of the attack of his team. The young point guard should be the engine of these Hornets. By his own natural evolution, Ball will be the main playmaker of the squad, and his ceiling may not be lower than that of a level player. All-Star (Although surely that will not happen this season).
Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, leaves a personal and subjective forecast on what he thinks each franchise will do during the 2020-21 season.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read or heard about “the bears on the stock market.” The bears are investors who bet that certain companies, sectors or economies are going to do worse than many others think and that is what I am going to be with the Hornets this year – although I hope I am wrong. I put Charlotte out of play-in (11th) to benefit other teams like Chicago, Indiana or Toronto. Reasons? Miscellaneous: Bulls superior offensive potential; prestigious coach in Indiana; team culture and homecoming from Toronto. All this makes me see the Hornets a step below what they have done in 2021.
Previous team analyzed: San Antonio Spurs. Next team analyzed: Golden State Warriors.
(Cover photo by Grant Halverson / Getty Images)