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The national media thinks the 2020-21 Hornets will be bad

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Talk about a lump of coal in your NBA stocking

Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

So much for all of the good vibes heading into the 2020-21 season. Despite the arrivals of Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball, most of the national media thinks the 2020-21 Charlotte Hornets are going to be pretty bad. Multiple websites that I have sampled consistently place the Hornets among the bottom tier of Eastern Conference teams and none of the sources I sampled have Charlotte sniffing the playoffs. Here’s the rundown:

The Ringer put teams into different tiers and slotted the Hornets in the “Wish They Were on the Playoff Bubble” category along with the Timberwolves, Kings, and Spurs. While The Ringer doesn’t view the Hornets as competitive they do view the team as fun to watch with a high “League Pass Check-In Rating”, a term they invented just for LaMelo Ball & Co. The Eastern Conference teams slotted below the Hornets are the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Knicks.

Conference Projection: 11th

CBS Sports ranks the Hornets 25th among the NBA’s 30 teams. The people at CBS recognize the jolt of excitement LaMelo brings to Charlotte and the contributions Gordon Hayward can make but ultimately view the team’s defensive shortcomings as keeping them out of the playoff picture. Among teams in the East the Hornets are only above the Pistons (27th), Knicks (28th), and Cavaliers (29th).

Conference Projection: 12th has the Hornets also trending toward the bottom of the conference. That said, there is some optimism around Charlotte playing at a faster clip this year with Ball and Hayward joining the fold, plus additional opportunities for Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier to shoot off the pass more instead of primarily off the dribble. But just like CBS, the NBA’s own website has the Hornets above only the Knicks, Pistons, and Cavs.

Conference Projection: 12th

The nerds at FiveThirtyEight and their number-crunching approach also paint a dismal picture for the 2020-21 season. Overall they rank the Hornets above only the Knicks, Cavs, and Pistons in the entire NBA. FiveThirtyEight only gives Charlotte an eight percent chance of making the playoffs.

Conference Projection: 12th

Lastly, our very own SB Nation site also does a tiers approach and has slotted the Hornets in the “Skip to Draft Lottery” subdivision, which is the lowest category a team can be placed in. Joining the Hornets in this basketball wasteland from the Eastern Conference include the Bulls, Cavs, Pistons, and Knicks. I have just one thing to say to our SB Nation overlords: “Et tu, SBN?”

Conference Projection: Between 11th and 15th

Well, there you have it. The national basketball media doesn’t view the Hornets as competing for a playoff spot this year. Maybe I’m too close to what’s going in Charlotte, but I think this team will surprise a few people. They have a solid seven-man rotation with Ball, Rozier, Graham, Hayward, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, and Cody Zeller. Malik Monk is serviceable the Martins should improve in Year 2, as should Jalen McDaniels. Coach James Borrego is developing a good culture and all of these ingredients leave me optimistic.

Now, I’m not locking the Hornets into the playoffs, but I would upgrade them from “Definitely Lottery Bound” where most sites have them to something more respectable like “Frisky Enough to Compete For an 8th Seed.” Let’s see if the Hornets can prove their skeptics wrong.