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Advanced Stats Class: The Hornets were carried by a Top 10 offense

Despite a poor showing in the play-in tournament, the Hornets had a Top 10 team in the advanced stats category of offensive rating.

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The 2021-22 Charlotte Hornets finished the regular season with a 43-39 record and the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference. Let’s take a look back on the Hornets team advanced stats and better understand why their season went the way it did. This week we’ll break down the Hornets offensive rating.

Advanced stat: Offensive rating

What it measures: Measures a team’s points scored per 100 possessions

Hornets result: 113.6 offensive rating

League rank: 8th overall

Offense makes up half of the game of basketball, and the Hornets had a Top 10 scoring offense this year. Charlotte scored 113.6 points per 100 possessions, good enough for No. 8 in the league, and not too far off the Utah Jazz’s league-leading mark of 116.2.

The Hornets team as a whole took a step forward in 2021-22 when compared to the year before. Yes, it was more than disappointing to see them get blown out as the No. 10 seed in the play-in tournament for the second year in a row, but don’t blame their offense.

Perhaps the main reason behind the Top 10 result in offensive rating is the team just simply shot the ball well for most of the year. The advanced stat Effective Field Goal percentage measures field goal percentage adjusting for made 3-point field goals being 1.5 times more valuable than made 2-point field goals. Charlotte’s team effective field goal percentage of 54.4% ranked seventh in the league. The Hornets were an average offensive rebounding team, but they made the most of their field goal attempts.

Charlotte was one of the league’s better 3-point shooting teams this year. The Hornets shot 36.5% from deep which ranked an impressive No. 6 in the league. Among the team’s higher-volume 3-point shooters, Gordon Hayward somewhat surprisingly led the team at 39.1% followed by LaMelo Ball (38.9%), Cody Martin (38.4%), and Jalen McDaniels (38.0%). The Hornets didn’t really have any “great” 3-point shooters, but they did have a lot of “good” ones.

Another area of strength that contributed to a strong offensive showing was the Hornets turnover rate of 13.1 ranking 9th in the league, so another Top 10 finish in an important statistical category. It’s a little surprising to see Charlotte finish among the better teams in avoiding turnovers because this is a team that pushes the pace and is led by a young, creative point guard in LaMelo Ball. But overall the team took care of the rock, giving their shooters as many chances as possible to score.

One area that held the Hornets offense back a bit was the team’s poor showing at the free throw line. Overall Charlotte shot just 74.0% from the free throw line which ranked 27th out of 30 teams. The league average was 77.5%, so the Hornets left some points on the board throughout the season with misses from the charity stripe. The main offender, of course, was Mason Plumlee who somehow shot just 39.2% from the line. Kelly Oubre Jr. shot a disappointing 66.7% from the line to contribute to the issues there.

From an individual player perspective, the Hornets are one of the few NBA teams with three legitimate 20-point per game scorers on their roster in Miles Bridges (20.2 PPG), LaMelo Ball (20.1 PPG), and Terry Rozier (19.3 PPG). These three players gave the Hornets a lot of diversity and different options to just go out and get buckets when they needed them.

Overall the Hornets had a really good season in terms of offensive production. But again, offense is only half of the game of basketball, and next week we’ll break down where things fell apart, namely the team’s defensive performance.