The Charlotte Hornets haven't made the playoffs since 2016. Last year they had the most talented team that they have maybe ever had, yet they were still unable to crack the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs. The best team in Charlotte history made it only as far as the Eastern Conference Semifinals back in 2002. This current team has talent at every position and should be able to compete in the East soon as long as they keep their current team and add more talent alongside it. The biggest thing with this team to fix is their consistency. At certain points during the year the Hornets seemed like one of the best teams in the conference and at other times they seemed like one of the worst. To make the playoffs this upcoming season the Hornets will need to find some consistency in their team. That starts with their All Star LaMelo Ball, as he is the leader of this team even though he is still just 20-years-old.
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Last season, the Charlotte Hornets went into the year with high hopes. The team had an up and coming star in Ball, Miles Bridges, who was set to have a big year, and Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre, and Gordon Hayward who are all good scorers and shooters. This team had some of the best guard and forward talent in the league. On paper they looked like a playoff team. They began the 2021-2022 season winning the first five of seven games. This team was off to a hot start until they proceeded to lose five games in a row. After that losing streak they went on another winning streak, winning the next eight of nine games. The season went on like this as Charlotte commonly went on losing and winning streaks of three games or more at a time. This didn't result in a terrible record for the Hornets as they still finished the regular season with a winning record of 43-39. However, in the East, that record was only good enough to get them a spot in the play-in game. They had to face the Atlanta Hawks who were in the Eastern Conference Finals the year previous, and they ultimately lost and were eliminated.
Following on from a Disappointing Season
The Hornets last season was a disappointment. They had a good record but still couldn't crack the playoffs and dealt with some injuries. The main injury Charlotte dealt with was to Gordon Hayward. Hayward played just 49 games and averaged 15.9 points this past season. That was a steep drop off from his production last year when he averaged 19.6 points the previous season. Charlotte is rumored to be looking to trade him due to his injury history and decrease in production last year. A move on from him may be necessary to make room for others on the Hornets to get more minutes such as Kelly Oubre Jr., who averaged the same points per game in six less minutes than Hayward at the same position.
Question Marks Over Miles Bridges
Another big question mark that could greatly hurt or help the chances of the Hornets to make the playoffs is what will happen with their star Miles Bridges. It was first rumored that Bridges wanted more money in free agency than the Hornets were willing to offer him. Then, right before free agency, Bridges got arrested on a domestic violence felony charge. The outcome of this could be a disaster for him, and his career in the NBA is in question, not just his future with the Hornets. It seems he won't be playing for the Hornets or in the NBA at all next season. This loss in production is massive for the Hornets as he averaged the most points per game on the team last year at 20.2 per game.
The Charlotte Hornets likely are not done making moves based on the news of them wanting to trade Hayward and also being without Bridges most likely. Still the Hornets have a strong core with LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Kelly Oubre. This team should be good in the East, but may have to go through the play-in again to make the playoffs unless they make some big moves for the upcoming year.
The Eastern Conference has become increasingly more competitive the past couple of years. Even with the Hornets being four games above the .500 mark, they were unable to make it last year. The Hornets right now should not be projected to be better than they were last year, however. They are likely losing arguably their best player in Bridges, and they still have more work to get this roster fully together. Until then, they should be considered a contender to make the playoffs but by no means a lock for a playoff spot in the tough Eastern Conference.
A Star Player in LaMelo Ball
This team will only go as far as their star player can lead them though. LaMelo Ball has quickly turned into one of the most exciting NBA players that has huge upside. For him to lead the Hornets to the playoffs this year, he will likely need to increase his production like some other young NBA guards have done recently such as Ja Morant and Trae Young. Ball has the ability to lead a team to the playoffs, and Charlotte will rely on him to lead this team to the postseason.
The Hornets have one of the longest playoff droughts in the NBA. It has been six years since the franchise has made the playoffs. However, making the playoffs is not enough for a lot of NBA fans. Winning in the playoffs is what really matters. The Hornets haven't actually won a playoff series since 2002. This Hornets team has a real chance to be the best ever in Charlotte. They arguably already have the best player in franchise history in LaMelo Ball, and they will need to surround him with the talent that they need to make some noise in the playoffs soon.
Hornets Online Betting Odds
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- Conference winner: +5000
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