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Video Game Week: Rebuilding the Charlotte Hornets on NBA 2K20, Part 2

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The 2020-2021 Hornets season is in full-swing, don’t miss it!

Milan Games Week 2019 Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

The 2020-2021 season

Here is a map of the rotation for the upcoming season, I tweaked Cody Martin and Daniel Oturu’s minutes a bit:

G - Devonte’ Graham - 32 minutes

G - Killian Hayes - 26 minutes

F - Miles Bridges - 30 minutes

F - PJ Washington - 30 minutes

C - Cody Zeller - 26 minutes

6 - Terry Rozier - 28 minutes

7 - Malik Monk - 24 minutes

8 - Skal Labissiere - 18 minutes

9 - Daniel Oturu - 13 minutes

10 - Cody Martin - 13 minutes

Terry Rozier could be starting, but Hayes’ defense and size are better fit next to Devonte’, and more importantly, I want Terry to win Sixth Man of the Year.

2K randomly generates a schedule for future seasons, so opening night in 2020 was on October 29 against the Pistons. The simulation strategy was adjusted so that every active player would receive minutes on opening night, just like what James Borrego did on opening night in 2019.

The first game of the season did not go smoothly. The Hornets lost 98-78 to Detroit and Devonte’s 11 points were a team-high. Gotta shake off the rust.

After opening night, Payton Pritchard and Udoka Azubuike were sent to Greensboro to develop. Now, it’s just Caleb Martin, Jalen McDaniels and Nicolas Batum riding the bench. Gonna have to find some minutes for Caleb and Jalen somewhere.

The Hornets got off to a 7-3 start before Cody Zeller broke his right ankle in mid-November and was ruled out for 4-6 weeks. Daniel Oturu took Zeller’s starting spot and Azubuike was recalled from Greensboro to be the backup.

About a week later, Killian Hayes strained his right knee and was shelved for 1-2 weeks. Malik Monk took his place in the starting lineup (trying to keep Terry eligible for Sixth Man of the Year) and Caleb Martin was given 14 minutes per game.

Zeller and Hayes getting hurt prompted a 3-4 stretch, putting the Hornets at 10-7 going into December. Killian Hayes returned shortly after that, and instead of forcing Caleb to the bench, he was sent to Greensboro.

The injury bug hit the 2020-2021 Hornets hard. PJ Washington was ruled out for 8-10 weeks with a stress fracture in his lower right leg in late-December. Instead of starting Labissiere, I took this as an opportunity to let Miles play as a small-ball four and start Cody Martin. At least Zeller got healthy around Christmastime, which means it’s back to Greensboro for Azubuike.

December was a rough month. Heading into 2021, the Hornets were 12-20, good for 13th place in the East.

Payton Pritchard’s overall rating dropped seven points because he was angry I left him in Greensboro (the game has player personalities accurate to their real-life counterpart) for so long, so I demoted McDaniels and called up Pritchard. Here’s what the rotation looked like:

G - Devonte’ Graham - 32 minutes

G - Killian Hayes - 28 minutes

F - Cody Martin - 26 minutes

F - Miles Bridges - 30 minutes

C - Cody Zeller - 26 minutes

6 - Terry Rozier - 28 minutes

7 - Malik Monk - 24 minutes

8 - Skal Labissiere - 20 minutes

9 - Daniel Oturu - 14 minutes

10 - Payton Pritchard - 12 minutes

That leaves Caleb Martin and Batum as nightly DNP-CDs. I really need to find playing time for Caleb without compromising Devonte’, Terry, Malik or Killian’s minutes.

The 2020 trade deadline

Heading into the February 11 trade deadline, the Hornets were still in 13th place with a record of 21-30. Nobody on the team is hurt, so in other words, anybody can be traded.

Batum is an expiring deal now, but the only reasonable trade for him is a straight-up swap of him and JJ Barea, who is now on the Hawks. Not worth it. Batum will likely be bought out after the deadline to free-up a roster spot.

Zeller doesn’t fetch much of a return on his own, but when packaged with Monk, who is due an extension the following summer...

The Pacers offer Myles Turner for Zeller, Monk and a 2021 second-rounder via the Clippers, and the Knicks offer Mitchell Robinson, Javale McGee (who they signed for three-years and $19.55M) and a 2023 first-round swap where the Hornets get the better of the two picks.

Robinson is an 85 overall rating compared to Turner’s 81, but Turner’s floor-spacing is a better fit in Borrego’s system and I don’t want to have McGee making nearly $7M/year on the bench. Turner’s three-year, $54M deal also doesn’t clog up too much cap space and allows the team to remain mediocre and get a lottery pick in the 2021 draft. Turner it is! Sad to see Malik and Cody go, but this move probably helps in the long-term.

Azubuike, much like Pritchard, got fed up with being in the G-League, so he had to be recalled before his overall rating dropped too much. He and Batum are the two benchwarmers.

Just in time for the All-Star break, PJ is healthy! The young Hornets shine in back-to-back Rising Stars games, with Killian Hayes, Cody Martin and Daniel Oturu all participating. Devonte’ was not an All-Star despite averaging 22.1 points, 6.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds shooting 37.5 percent on 9.2 3PA per game. Whatever.

The Hornets parted ways with Batum during the break and signed Ignas Brazdeikis from the free agent pool to a $2.90M deal for the remainder of the season. There weren’t many decent young wings available that would take less than $3M per year, and Brazdeikis is at least a solid shooter and defender.

Here’s the post-deadline/All-Star break rotation:

G - Devonte’ Graham - 32 minutes

G - Killian Hayes - 28 minutes

F - Miles Bridges - 30 minutes

F - PJ Washington - 30 minutes

C - Myles Turner - 30 minutes

6 - Terry Rozier - 30 minutes

7 - Skal Labissiere - 20 minutes

8 - Cody Martin - 14 minutes

9 - Daniel Oturu - 14 minutes

10 - Payton Pritchard - 12 minutes

The three benchwarmers as of now are Caleb Martin, Azubuike and Brazdeikis. The three of them, along with McDaniels, will shuttle back-and-forth between virtual Charlotte and virtual Greensboro until the season is over.

Want to know what happens with the end of the 2020-2021 season and beyond? Well, you’ll just have to keep visiting At The Hive dot com to find out.