The Charlotte Hornets have actually looked—dare I say—exciting this preseason. I know, it is the preseason, and yes, I am definitely sipping that preseason drank a little bit too hard at the moment, but boy, does it taste good. It looks like it is a great time (that’s a first) to be a Hornets fan, and at a quick glance the Southeast Division may very well be wide open and open for grabs.
Hornets finished 4-1 in the preseason, splitting games against the Boston Celtics, and beating the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Dallas Mavericks. Each game the Hornets have looked good on offense and defense, most impressively against Boston who is touted as the best team in the East. Again, I know, it’s preseason, but everyone is playing, and the starters going head-to-head with the best team in the eastern conference.
The additions of Miles Bridges and Tony Parker may prove to be huge pickups for the Hornets as well.
By now we all know what Parker is bringing to the table and It looks like Bridges may very well be the steal of the draft. Some have even suggested he could be this season’s Donovan Mitchell. He’s getting more and more minutes with each preseason game and proving he deserves those minutes. Thundering dunks, electric shooting, and NBA ready defense, the guy seems to have it all, and everyone in Buzz City couldn’t be more excited (admittedly maybe too excited).
Additionaly, Malik Monk almost seems like a new signing with the way Head Coach James Borrego has been using him compared to the old staff. He’s getting significantly more minutes than last season and is already one of the first players off the bench. I’m expecting him to be in the conversation for most improved player by mid-season.
Also, don’t sleep on Jeremy Lamb. It seems like Lamb has cemented his place at the shooting guard position, but Monk will definitely be knocking on the door soon. If I recall correctly, it seemed like out of the 18 games Lamb started in last season, he played extremely well, to the point where Hornets fans were begging for Steve Clifford to start him.
Hornets have gotten back a healthy Cody Zeller, who can be one of the best pick and rollers in the league with Kemba Walker. Willy Hernangomez has transformed his body and looks like he’s ready to become to Spanish Steven Adams. We all know what Kemba will bring to the table so there’s no point to go any further. This could very well be the time for this roster to transcend and make a push, and I don’t think it is that far-fetched considering who our division opponents are.
The Washington Wizards are the current favorites to take the division. It makes sense, All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal lead the team, Otto Porter is coming along as a solid starter, and they just obtained our beloved Dwight Howard to man the middle. Talented starting lineup, with some decent depth of Jeff Green, Kelly Oubre, Markieff Morris and I GUESS Austin Rivers.
However, for some reason, I just can’t see it ending the way they imagine. This seems like a team that could kill itself from the inside. I’m not sure if John Wall likes anybody. Beal wants to run the show. No one ever seems to want Dwight, and Austin Rivers is Austin Rivers, how could this possibly end well?
Moving on to the predicted 2nd place team, the Miami Heat. Now, this all assuming Jimmy Butler doesn’t end up in Miami, if he does, then pretend like you never even read this article. But currently, who does Miami even have? Goran Dragic usually kills us, and I like Bam Adebayo, he’s cool. Josh Richardson is also solid. However, from what I have seen, Miami fans hate Hassan Whiteside, and there are question marks among the rest of the rotation. They do have Head Coach Eric Spoelstra, who will find a way to make them relevant no matter who is on the roster; however, I think we may have the more talented roster and can finally surpass them.
Everyone knows the state of the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks, they should both be bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference again. I do think the Magic may make a little bit of noise disrupting some teams seasons and causing a bit of an interruption, but not enough to take a stab at the division lead. They have like a million big men and no decent guards. They might need Mo Bamba to run point guard.
For you gambling folks, the Hornets are currently +1200 to win the southeast. That is not very good odds. Nobody believes in us, except for us, and that’s perfectly fine. The front office has shown no sign of wanting to rebuild. They want to be fighting for a playoff spot and depending on how certain players shape out, this could be a very exciting season for the team. With a very important offseason coming up this season could very well shape the foreseeable future for Charlotte.
If not, cheers to the 10th pick!