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Charlotte Hornets 2022-23 Season Preview

Charlotte Hornets 2022-23 Season Preview

Welcome to the team season preview series! From today to the start of the season, I’ll be recapping the team’s season, go through their moves in the off-season, and end with a discussion of what’s to come in the upcoming season for them.

Season & Off-Season Recap

The Charlotte Hornets had a, I guess, an average season. For the second straight year, their season ended shortly after getting eliminated in the play-in team.

That’s what this team feels like to me. They are a play-in contender and that’s what they have been this season.

They had decent production from most of the guys on their team — Gordon Hayward gave you an efficient 15 points on solid shooting. Growth from players like Cody Martin and PJ Washington. And other veterans giving you what they should.

But most importantly, this was LaMelo Ball’s first All-Star appearance. He has shown that his growth and his ceiling is the most important aspect for this team.

Their off-season was disappointing in many ways.

Even before discussing the basketball side, everything that has happened with the whole Miles Bridges situation was unfortunate. With these allegations, he shouldn’t be on this team and shouldn’t be on any other team.

To make matters worse Montrezl Harrell had his own issues and allegations against him.

Despite this being out of the Hornets’ control, this still hurts them as a team. They are losing their leading scorer. They are losing one of better young guys on this team and didn’t do anything to replace that production. Their only addition was Mark Williams as the 15th overall pick — who’s going to add rim-running, high efficiency, and some rim protection.

They got worse this off-season. Simple as that. And what they were doing with their coach situation was also pretty strange.

What’s in Store This Season

There’s one thing that’s most likely in store for the Hornets and that is a third straight appearance in the play-in tournament — and even that is not a guarantee.

Their off-season depends on how they will try go about it. Last year, they finished 10th with 43 wins, just under the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets. One win separated them.

That should be encouraging then, no?

The difference is, every team above them has got better. The Cavaliers will have health and Donovan Mitchell. The Hawks now have added Dejounte Murray with one of the best point guards in Trae Young. The Nets will be better significantly, as they won’t be dealing with all the stuff they dealt with last year.

There was also only a 6-8 win gap between them and the New York Knicks, and the Washington Wizards. And I don’t see the Hornets convincingly better than those two.

So, their ceiling is barely making the play-in. I don’t know if I want that to be my ceiling as an organisation, especially when you consider that their success came from a lot of veterans.

This isn’t a young core with high ceiling that has multiple stars and All-Star calibre players all growing, developing, and improving each season.

Out of the eight guys with at least 1000 minutes, only three players were 23 or younger — Washington, Ball, and Bridges. At the same time, they only had two high minutes guys over the age of 30 — Hayward and Plumlee.

So, the majority of their roster is filled with players in the mid-to-late 20s, all who have most likely hit their ceiling.

The only bright side is Ball emerging as a star. He upped his production, improved his outside shooting, increased in all major statistic, and improved his efficiency.

He became more of a threat as a catch-and-shoot guy from deep, as well as increasing his attempts and efficiency on pull-ups — Per BBall-Index, amongst 374 players in 2022 with at least 500 mins, he ranked in the:

  • 79th percentile in 3pt pull up shot making
  • 97th in 3pt shot making
  • 91st in 3pt pull up shot creation
  • 89th in 3pt shot creation

And his passing stats this year ranked at the top — Per BBI, amongst 374 players in 2022 with at least 500 mins, he ranked in the:

  • 95th percentile in passing efficiency
  • 65th in passing versatility
  • 94th in passing creation volume
  • 98th in passing creation quality
  • 98th in high value assists per 75

His development into an All-Star calibre guy has been huge, but that isn’t enough to carry this team into the playoffs.

It will be interesting to see what direction they decide to go with.

Will they carry on with the solid veterans, hope there’s some growth in certain young guys, and another leap from Ball to push for the playoffs?

Or will they hit a soft reset, where they move on from Hayward, Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr, and try to retool around Ball by gaining assets for the next season or two.

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