The Charlotte Hornets spent the 2016 NBA trade deadline with just one move they made early in the week. The trade for Courtney Lee is the only deal they made and it was universally praised. There were some rumors involving Dwight Howard, but at the end of the day the majority of the Hornets remain the same as it was before the All-Star break.
With the new addition of Lee, and what we know from the first half of the season, what should the expectations be for the Hornets moving forward? Obviously it's hard to glean out the necessary information from the first half due to the hot start followed by a flurry of injuries, but for the most part this should be a good basketball team right? They currently rank in the top half of the NBA on both sides of the ball, and before Michel Kidd-Gilchrist re-tour his labrum they were starting to gain the form of a playoff team.
With the All-Star break over, the Hornets are for the most part healthy. They're still dealing with some minor ones that will hopefully heal soon, but right now their core of Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, and Al Jefferson are all likely to be back on the court together. So the team is pretty healthy, they've been playing good basketball, and they added a player that is universally considered a good addition.
With all that in mind, there is no reason at all to have expectations below making the playoffs. Other teams in the East got better as well, but based on the way Charlotte has built themselves it's quite clear that they consider themselves a playoff team and they will be judged as such. This isn't last year's team where injuries hid a bad team playing in an even worse system. The talent is there, the system works, and anything outside of a playoff appearance would be a failure. That's just the minimum.
Let's say that the beginning of the year was more than a really hot start that got tripped up by injuries. With the addition of Lee Charlotte should be even better. Their ceiling right now could be as high as the fourth seed if everything falls into place the way they have planned, but that's going to require some great basketball and a lot more injury luck than they've had.
Expectations have placed the Hornets in the bottom half of the playoffs, and that's a good thing, but now they have to go out there and meet them. This is a good basketball team that thanks to the deadline got even better. It's a shame they'll be without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist the rest of the year, but they've spent most of the season without him already. It's time to find out just how good these Hornets really are.