The Charlotte Hornets have made a lot of moves this offseason in an attempt to rebound from last year's disaster of a season. Yesterday, ESPN gave their final thoughts on how the team as a whole will fair this regular season. Now remember this is a forecast prediction from an entire panel of 200 or so people. Opinions will vary, and just cause Kevin Pelton says the Hornets will be the second most improved team in the NBA does not mean everybody on the panel will agree.
The result for the Hornets? Not good. ESPN's panel had Charlotte finishing 10th place in the East, with a record of 35-47, only two games better than last year. Their playoff picture remained almost the same with all seven of last year's eight making the playoffs again. The Nets fell out of the playoffs to 12th place, and the Heat will move on up into the playoffs with a healthy Chris Bosh, and a full season of Goran Dragic.
So that's not good for the Hornets, but there is hope! For starters, last year's forecast had the Hawks finishing 18 games less than where they actually finished, so there is proof that sometimes they can be way off base. The other hope for Hornets fans is how the panel has almost the same exact group of teams as last year's Eastern Conference playoffs. While this isn't a crazy prediction, especially in the east, it's also not something that's likely to happen. Every season, there's a team that takes a random fall, or suffers an injury, with an unexpected newcomer taking their place. Sure, Charlotte isn't the sexy pick like the Orlando Magic, but would it really be crazy to see Charlotte fight their way into the eight seed?
Of course, for many people, they might feel a little burned by the Hornets last season. Expectations were high last year, and everybody got behind a scoring combo of Al Jefferson with Kemba Walker. Instead, fans got a taste of a team that was not fun to watch at all by April, and wished that they could fire that offense into the sun. A poor season like that will definitely lead to low expectations the following season.
Charlotte has lost the respect of experts. If they want to be taken seriously again then their improved roster is going to need to show that they're more than just a new coat of paint with the same old problems.