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The Charlotte Hornets have a shooting problem

The offensive woes go deeper than a new system.

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Charlotte Hornets have the worst offense in the NBA this season. The 5.6 point drop in offensive rating is a massive decline from an offense that finished last season seventh in the league. When healthy, a lot of the personnel is the same. However, the system is different, which makes it an easy culprit to blame for the fallout. While it's certainly a factor, there's another coinciding explanation--the Hornets just aren't making shots.

The 2021-22 version of the Hornets had a smooth, free flowing offense that ended in a lot of open shots from the perimeter. They attempted 18.5 wide open 3-pointers (defined by nba.com as a shot without a defender within six feet of the shooter). That accounted for 48.4% of their 3-point attempts. This season, the Hornets are only generating 12.9 wide open 3-pointers per game, which is 39.3% of their attempts. That reduced rate of wide open threes has coincided with a drop in the absolute number of 3-pounters the Hornets are attempting.

But the quality of looks isn't the only reason the Hornets are shooting a league worst 32.6% from three. Even when they get open looks, the shots aren't going in. The Hornets have made just 33.6% of their wide open 3-point attempts. That's the worst mark in the league and a 5.7% drop from last season. Every single player on the roster is shooting a lower percentage from three than they did last season.

The Hornets have the right high-level ideas on offense; they're just not working. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Hornets take the second highest frequency of shots at the rim. If they shot the league average from each sector of the court, they'd have the best effective field goal percentage in the league based on where they take their shots. However, they're dead last in that category in reality. They're simply not making their shots.

The Hornets shot quality has deteriorated this year for a number of reasons. If nothing else, James Borrego implemented an offensive system that got the most out of the players within it. Steve Clifford hasn't had the same success, though that can probably be attributed to both his offensive system and the injuries the Hornets have dealt with this season, particularly with LaMelo Ball. The Hornets are getting fewer open shots from the perimeter, and they get their shots blocked more than any team in the league. That's where the system and lineup quality factor in. But even when they get open looks, the Hornets aren't converting them. All of that has coalesced into the league's most inefficient offense.

The roster is getting healthy, so that should improve the shot quality. Now the Hornets need to hit those shots for their to be any chance of them climbing out of the NBA cellar.