It's possible that none of us could really argue with the Hornets being ranked 21st in the league one week into the NBA season, and yet that's still a bottom-ten placement in the NBA, which I don't think any of us would quite agree with. Yes, the Hornets have definitely struggled so far, but I feel like that may only be relative to expectations. At 1-2, they do have a subpar record, but that's only a one-game difference from a .667 winning percentage, and all three of their games so far have, in one way or another, come down to a single possession at the end of the game. And the two teams they lost to, the Grizzlies and the Knicks, are ranked 3rd and 12th in John Schuhmann's power rankings. So, like I said, it's a difficult ranking to argue with, but I'd certainly think it's well more optimistic than any of other teams ranked 20th or worse.
What does Schuhmann mention in his short writeup on the team? One of the big things he talks about is how ineffective the offense has looked so far, with Kemba Walker and Lance Stephenson are combining to shoot 32% from the field. Now, while it does not take a basketball expert to realize that it is a problem when your starting backcourt makes less than one-third of its shots, Schuhmann is absolutely correct in pointing out that this will be perhaps the biggest issue facing the Hornets for the foreseeable future. By offensive rating, the Hornets rank 29th in the league. That's pretty bad.
So, why the optimism? Well, a stat I'm a little surprised by: the Hornets' defensive ranking is 5th in the league. That's very good! In fact, the ranking's even better than it was last year, when the defense carried the Bobcats to the playoffs. While their net rating is still negative and below average (which really says all you need to know about the Hornets' start to the season), their defense playing well so far is a huge sigh of relief for all of us who are concerned that the Hornets have had to play from behind in all three games so far. The question going forward, for the time being, is whether they'll be able to keep up the strong play on one end of the court while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is day-to-day with an injury.
That's what a respected national writer thinks about how the Hornets have started this season. Where would you rank them (and, if you're feeling ambitious, the rest of the league) so far?