I not only enjoy watching Hornets games, I’m also a fantasy hoops addict. I can be thoroughly engrossed watching a random game between the Sacramento Kings and the Oklahoma City Thunder as long as I have De’Aaron Fox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on my fantasy roster. At any point in the NBA season I know way too much about random tidbits like Tomas Satoransky’s assists, Jakob Poeltl’s rebounds and blocks, and which teams have four games in the next five nights.
In short, I’m an NBA stats nerd.
The best of all worlds is having a solid Hornet on my fantasy team, provided he stays healthy, of course. And nobody on Charlotte’s roster brings as much fun and excitement in both the real world and the fantasy universe as LaMelo Ball. He just oozes elite stats in so many different categories. Based on projections from ESPN, here’s how LaMelo and his crew are projected to fare this year:
2021-22 Projected Stats, per ESPN
|Terry Rozier||PG, SG||76||34.2||3.1||19.7||4.4||4.2||1.2||0.4||0.446||0.827|
|Miles Bridges||SF, PF||76||29.6||1.7||12.6||6.1||2.2||0.7||0.8||0.493||0.860|
|Kelly Oubre Jr.||SF||72||27.1||1.5||14.1||5.1||1.2||1.0||0.7||0.444||0.740|
Now, these are just ESPN’s projections. There are others on the web such as FantasyPros which averages projected stats from a number of sites, but they didn’t have stats from all of the Hornets I wanted to highlight so I just went with ESPN.
What looks about right
LaMelo is going to be a blast for the managers who are lucky enough to land him. He’s going to put people on triple-double alert on almost any given night. And as a fantasy manager, nothing is more gratifying than seeing a 3x2 box score from one of your studs, and LaMelo is just that.
Gordon Hayward is projected to play in 64 games (meaning he’ll miss 18) and average just 30.5 minutes per contest. For as much as I really like Gordon, I’m not touching him with a 10-foot pole in fantasy hoops. He’s no longer the unquestioned fantasy alpha in Charlotte like he was going into last season. Averages of about 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists without elite production in any other category just isn’t worth the injury risk. While Hayward is clearly an asset for the on-court Charlotte Hornets, he won’t find a spot on my fantasy roster unless he drops ridiculously far in the draft.
Frankly, I’ve got to give props to ESPN. I think these are pretty are pretty fair projections overall with just two minor grievances.
What looks a little off
Terry Rozier had a fantastic fantasy season last year with 3.2 3-pointers, 20.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. ESPN is projecting him to take a little bit of a step back this year. With all due respect, I think Terry will take another step forward this season. Devonte’ Graham is gone and I always viewed him as a limiting factor to Rozier’s fantasy production. I don’t see Ish Smith or James Bouknight interfering with Terry’s stats like Devonte’ did, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rozier improve on last year’s stellar output.
Miles Bridges finished last season as a man on a mission. As I’ve written before, over his final 19 games he averaged 20.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 51.6% from the field. During that stretch he also hit 58-of-133 3-pointers, or a blistering 43.6%. ESPN projects Bridges to essentially replicate last year’s minutes and production. I think he’s going to be noticeably more productive this year. I’ll go out on a limb and project 2.8 3-pointers, 14.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on closer to 32 minutes per game than the 29.6 ESPN is projecting.
For those of you who play fantasy hoops, good luck with your upcoming drafts. And for those of you smart enough to land LaMelo Ball, enjoy the ride!