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The unfortunate reality behind the Hornets’ recent struggles

As they say, it’s a make-or-miss league

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Early on in the season, the Charlotte Hornets were one of the best offensive teams in the league. They were nailing three-pointers, running in transition, and everything was running smoothly. Only the problem was, their defense was absolutely horrific. A lack of communication and overall effort killed them.

But now, funnily enough, those themes have flip-flopped.

In Charlotte’s last 13 games (2-11 record), they hold the 11th-best defensive rating in the league (110.1), but the third-worst offensive rating (105.8). They’re playing some of their best defense of the season, but now magically, their offense has gone cold. In reality, though, there’s nothing magic about it.

When the Hornets’ offense was at its peak, the ball was moving on a string. LaMelo Ball initiated the offense, Gordon Hayward and/or Terry Rozier were there to keep it moving, and Mason Plumlee acted as a tertiary facilitator from the post. And the crazy part about it is, their passing numbers are still elite.

Over those same 13 games where the Hornets have gone 2-11, they rank first in the NBA in passes made (311.4), sixth in assists (26.8), and first in potential assists (53.8). The ball is moving, Charlotte just isn’t finishing the job. As painful (and obvious) as it is to say, they’re just missing shots.

Charlotte is shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from deep in their last 13 games. Those numbers rank 28th and 30th in the NBA, respectively. And while the easy explanation is that they’re not generating the same number of quality looks as they were earlier in the year, that’s not the case either. (Hornets fans, avert your eyes for this.)

On the season, Charlotte generates 18.8 wide-open threes a night (fifth in the NBA) and shoots 38.2 percent on those looks (13th in NBA). In the last 13 games, that number is actually improved, as they are averaging 19.1 wide-open threes (fourth in the NBA). However, Charlotte is shooting only 33.9 percent on those shots (28th in the league).

To put that in perspective, the only teams shooting worse on wide-open threes in that time span are the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder. (Both of whom have a better record than Charlotte over that period.)

It’s a sadistic truth and one that can only be fixed by water finding its level. And for those keeping score at home, the Hornets shot 7-for-20 on wide-open threes against the Milwaukee Bucks in their blowout loss.

Some notable individual numbers over the last 13 games are as followed:

  • Terry Rozier: 33.6 percent, 8.9 threes/game
  • Kelly Oubre Jr: 25.0 percent. 8.3 threes/game
  • PJ Washington: 31.6 percent, 5.8 threes/game
  • Miles Bridges: 24.3 percent, 5.4 threes/game
  • Cody Martin: 29.4 percent, 2.4 threes/game

Ball is the only one finding success from range lately, shooting 39.6 percent on 7.8 attempts per night over the last 13 games. Other than that, almost everyone is shooting well below their season averages.

And for those wondering about other areas of the Hornets’ offense, Charlotte’s averages for points in the paint and fast-break points are level. The numbers over the last 13 games are virtually identical to their numbers on the season. They’re even playing at a faster pace recently, so that’s not the solution either.

While it may sound like an oversimplification, the harsh reality is that the Hornets just aren’t hitting their threes. As the saying goes, it’s a make-or-miss league. And right now, the Hornets are simply missing.