I asked my esteemed colleagues at At the Hive a few questions about their predictions for the upcoming Charlotte Hornets season. Here are the answers.
What are you watching for this season with this team?
Andrew Waters: The biggest headline I’m looking for this year is to see if the Hornets can establish a new identity. With a gutted top-roster compared to a year ago, it will be interesting to see if the team can create a new and hopefully successful offensive and defensive playbook.
Laieke Abebe: I’m looking forward to seeing this Hornets team play with realistic expectations (not sure if it’ll matter in the end, but we’ll go with that). In terms of something to watch, the ability of Cody Zeller to stretch the floor (and first of all, be able to stay healthy for a full season).
Zach Brown: I will be watching to see if the Charlotte Hornets and specifically the front office can navigate the choppy waters of a losing season. Will they be able to position the franchise and make the moves necessary to create draft assets and set this team up for the future. Will the loses pile up so that Borreggo will be on the hot seat? How will the younger players react and grow through a season that will tally more Ls than Ws on the record? Roses can grow from concrete, with the right cultivation.
Mick Smiley: I’m watching to see how much the young core develops and what their ceiling looks like. They will need to be good in order to attract top free agent in the future.
Chase Whitney: I wish I could say wins, but I think the #1 thing to me is cohesion and growth among the young players. You just want them to go out every night and play hard while showing a semblance of improvement.
Jonathan DeLong: I just want to be entertained. I don’t expect this team to win a whole lot of games, so I’ll be rooting for them to play a sustainable style of basketball while the young players develop.
Who will we be talking about as the best player on this roster at the end of the season?
Andrew: Aside from Terry Rozier, expect Dwayne Bacon to be argued as one of the squad’s best players. He doesn’t shy away from shooting the rock, but consistencies on the offensive end have to be the biggest focus heading into this year.
Laieke: I have no idea, but if I had to guess, I’d still have no idea. Hornets fans should hope Terry Rozier does what all of the other veterans on this team haven’t been able to do: perform up to the standards of their contract.
Zach: Terry Rozier will have the means and opportunity to fill every box score that counts his name as a participant. If the preseason is any evidence, which it may not be, Mr. Rozier is more than capable of putting up points and assists in losing efforts. However, the true “Best Player” on this team will be the leader that can bring energy and hope during a tough season. With his demeanor and exiting play, I could see Miles Bridges being the player we need to bring the team through the tunnel and into the 2020-2021 light.
Mick: Terry Rozier. And if not, then his contract was a huge mistake.
Chase: I think Terry Rozier will separate himself pretty early. He’ll have his off nights, but the games where he leads the team in scoring and assists will outnumber those. A darkhorse could be PJ Washington, but I can’t see him getting the usage that Rozier does, even if he starts.
Jonathan: The obvious answer is probably Terry Rozier, and the Hornets are probably hoping that’s the case too after giving him such a huge contract. Cody Zeller could sneakily be in the mix too as a solid do-it-all guy if he can stay healthy.
How different does this roster look at the end of the season?
Andrew: I don’t see that much of a roster overhaul come season’s end. Besides some possible expiring contract dumps ( Marvin Williams), it looks like the team’s configuration will stay this way till next July.
Zach: Predicting what this Hornets roster will look like in June is like predicting the cast of Game of Thrones from the 1st season to the last; somebody’s gonna join a new house, someone is going to the stockade, and someone might end up on the chopping block. If I was the producer of this show, it’d be the red wedding by the end. Maybe, maybe Bridges and Washington will survive, but depending on the pieces of silver, Valar Morghulis.
Mick: Not very different. Perhaps a contender will trade for Marvin Williams given his skill set. It’s doubtful any of the other expensive vets will be attractive trade targets.
Chase: Anyone on an expiring deal could be sent to a contender at the deadline. Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be on the radar for teams that need either shooting or defense. I hope to god they don’t trade anyone who’s young or not on a large contract.
Jonathan: Aside of a possible Marvin Williams trade (he’s the only vet that’s a positive asset), I think the only changes we see are at the bottom of the roster if the team elects to churn through G League guys.
The Hornets win total over/under is set at 23.5. Do you think they finish above or below that mark and what’s your final record prediction?
Andrew: I believe the Hornets perform above their expected results, ending the campaign with roughly 26 wins. James Borrego has insisted on keeping a high level of defensive intensity and I don’t see Charlotte performing as other “tank teams” on the court.
Laieke: It’ll be below 23.5 and the NBA draft lottery will rob the franchise yet again. The worst 82-game record in Charlotte history was 18-64 in the first Charlotte Bobcats season (2004-05). This years Hornets will finish 12-70.
Zach: The new lottery rules have leveled the odds for the worst teams in the league. The three teams with the lowest win/loss totals will have an equal 14% chance at the first pick in the draft. So, it is no longer as advantageous to be the worst team in the league. With that being said, I believe that the Charlotte Hornets are the worst team in the league and will win 20 games during the season and go under on the odds. Good luck and God speed Hornets fans, here’s hoping I’m wrong.
Mick: I’ve got the Hornets coming in at 20 wins this year. I’m afraid they are going to lose a significant portion of their 30 games against the Western Conference where every team but the Suns could be competing for a playoff spot.
Chase: A lot of people online think the Hornets will be the worst team in the league, but I really don’t see that happening. I would bet the over and say they’ll go 24-58 and finish 14th in the East. And then we pray for lottery luck.
Jonathan: I’m gonna take the under, but not by much. I don’t think this team has enough consistent pieces to win on any sort of regular basis. I think they go 20-62.