While there are now not many people left on the free agent market and the workforce, except for upheaval via the expected trades of Damian Lillard and James Harden, is almost complete, it is time to make a first summer assessment for the 30 NBA franchises.
And after Detroit, Houston and San Antonio, this time we go to Charlotte, where the summer was very lively, while the Hornets have just missed the playoffs for the seventh year in a row…
27 wins – 55 losses (27th)
30th attack: 108.4 points scored on 100 possessions
20th defense: 114.7 points conceded on 100 possessions
Arrivals: Brandon Miller
Departures: Dennis Smith Jr, Kelly Oubre Jr (?)
Leaders: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Nick Smith Jr, Kobi Simmons, Theo Maledon (?)
Fullbacks/Wingers: Gordon Hayward, Brandon Miller, Miles Bridges, James Bouknight, Cody Martin, Bryce McGowens
Interiors: Kai Jones, JT Thor, Nick Richards, Mark Williams, PJ Washington (?)
THE LIKELY MAJOR FIVE
LaMelo Ball – Terry Rozier – Brandon Miller – Gordon Hayward – Mark Williams
Find the thread. Like all the teams that have squatted the league’s slums during the 2022/23 season, the Hornets will want to progress above all else. But last season was special for Charlotte, between the injuries of LaMelo Ball, who only played 36 games, and the white season of Miles Bridges because of his legal problems. Without his two best players of the 2021/22 campaign, everything was more complicated for Steve Clifford’s men. The next season should thus make it possible to pick up the thread, where it was left in 2022 when the Pacers beat the Hornets in “play-in”, after a season with 43 victories.
In addition, this summer, Michael Jordan sold the franchise and is therefore no longer the owner, thirteen years after his arrival at the head of the Hornets. He leaves with a very poor record, where there are only two small qualifications for the playoffs. A change of ownership is always a big moment, a new beginning, and in Charlotte it’s even more symbolic when it comes to the Bulls’ former glory.
THE BIG QUESTION
Can LaMelo Ball guide this team to the top? Plagued by ankle problems throughout the season, the Hornets playmaker ended up having surgery after a truncated year, where he only played 36 games. But the franchise is counting on its All-Star since it offered an XXL extension to Lonzo’s brother: 260 million dollars over five years!
With a brand new ankle and this golden contract, which will begin in 2024, LaMelo Ball must now carry the Hornets to the playoffs. Does he have the level? Because with the arrival of Steve Clifford on the bench last season, the team managed to save the furniture in defense, but in attack, it was catastrophic.
The absence of Miles Bridges has obviously not helped, nor the almost 50 games missed by LaMelo Ball, but the latter is not beyond reproach. He likes fast play and can be very spectacular on the counter-attack, but his shooting choices are often questionable and hasty, and his efficiency is clearly not always there.
He conceded it himself by evoking, at the time of his extension, his start to his career: “ In terms of basketball, it was more complicated. For his fourth season in the league, it’s time to finally reverse the trend.
– What return for Miles Bridges?
While expecting to receive a big check during the 2022 offseason, the winger was arrested just before the “free agency” for acts of domestic violence on his ex-girlfriend, in front of their children. He spent his 2022/2023 season at home or in the courts and not on the courts, playing no match for the Hornets, before finally receiving a three-year suspended prison sentence and 30 suspension matches, including 10 effective next season, the league having considered that his white season was already worth 20…
If he does not come back from a big injury, like players who usually miss an entire season, Miles Bridges still has a year less in his legs and above all a lot to be forgiven. ” I want to thank the Hornets and the NBA for giving me a second chance,” he said. “A lot of people don’t get a second chance and I want to use that to prove to everyone that I’m the same kid you drafted five years ago. »
The winger probably has some of the answers regarding the Hornets season, because he too must find the thread of the 2021/2022 campaign where he averaged 20.2 points. In good physical shape and vengeful to get his big contract next summer, he can become a key element. It remains to be seen whether his lack of rhythm and his extra-sporting problems will not weigh him down for a few more months.
– Which interior sector with or without PJ Washington?
Like Theo Maledon, PJ Washington was protected with a “qualifying offer”, making him a “protected free agent” but since then, the interior has still not signed an offer.
A return to Charlotte is therefore likely and it would not be a luxury for the Hornets because with or without him, the racket still looks very weak. If the rookie Mark Williams has certainly shown pretty things, if Nick Richards has also brought a little, Kai Jones and JT Thor have on the other hand played very little, and these four interiors seem far from being able to offer guarantees if the franchise wants to aim for the playoffs.
Keeping PJ Washington would therefore be the least you could do to at least have a dangerous player under the circle, the latter having averaged 15.7 points last year. Otherwise, the exteriors will feel alone…
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE HORNETS NEXT YEAR?