In an 82-game NBA season, the way a team plays over the course of their first eight games can set the tone for the remainder of the year. Those first eight games represent roughly 10 percent of the season and getting off to a good start can breed confidence in a team and give fans like us a reason to tune in.
Unfortunately, the Charlotte Hornets have a pretty stacked first eight games to kick off the 2019-2020 campaign. Based on recent rankings from Sports Illustrated, the Hornets are ranked dead last at No. 30 and four of their first eight games will come against Top 10 teams. Here’s a quick overview of how the Hornets might fare at the beginning of the season:
Oct 23 vs. Chicago Bulls (No. 24) - I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a win. Terry Rozier could have a big game against a point guard duo of Kris Dunn and Tomas Satoransky. The key will be to force Zach LaVine into tough shots and make other Bulls carry the offensive load.
Oct 25 vs. Timberwolves (No. 21) - Karl-Anthony Towns destroyed the Hornets last year by averaging 28 points, 14 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and four blocks in their two matchups. The Hornets will once again struggle to contain KAT while dropping this game to fall to 1-1.
Oct 27 at Lakers (No. 5) - LeBron James + Anthony Davis + road game = a loss to fall to 1-2.
Oct 28 at Clippers (No. 1) - Even without Paul George to start the season, the Los Angeles Clippers are so deep. Plus, this is the second night of a west coast back-to-back and another Hornets loss to fall to 1-3.
Oct 30 at Kings (No. 19) - The Sacramento Kings surprised a lot of teams last year and De’Aaron Fox had a breakout season. I’m going to predict a youthful Sacramento team overlooks the Hornets and comes out flat. Buddy Hield goes cold and Charlotte escapes with a hard-fought win to go to 2-3.
Nov 2 at Warriors (No. 7) - The Hornets enter their fourth game of their California road trip and get blitzed by a dialed in Steph Curry and a Golden State Warriors team that knows it can’t coast this year. Charlotte falls to 2-4.
Nov 5 vs. Pacers (No. 20) - Jeremy Lamb comes home and puts up one of his usual good-but-not-great performances. The offensive capabilities of Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis are too much for the Hornets defense, meanwhile Myles Turner makes life tough in the paint. The Pacers win with a boring but efficient style and Charlotte falls to 2-5.
Nov 7 vs. Celtics (No. 9) - The Terry Rozier revenge game! Rozier nearly scores 30, but it takes him over 20 field goal attempts to get there. A much deeper Boston team wins easily, but Terry playing like a madman makes this a must-watch game. Charlotte falls to 2-6 to start the year.
With a tough early schedule featuring a four-game California road trip, it’s going to be a rough start to the season. Within their first six games the Hornets will have already faced Karl-Anthony Towns, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Stephen Curry. While we as fans are going to have to sit through a lot of early losses, at least we’ll get the entertainment value of watching some of the league’s marquee players.
It’s probably going to be a long season for the Charlotte Hornets and their early-season schedule isn’t doing them any favors.