2023-24 NBA Season Preview: Charlotte Hornets

With the NBA Preseason officially underway, we will be previewing all 30 teams. During the summer, a lot happened within the organization. The Charlotte Hornets will enter the 2023-24 season under new leadership. The Hornets fell short of expectations in 2022-23 after LaMelo Ball‘s season ended with an injury. The injury surely didn’t help, but the team wasn’t much better before that. A 20-38 record leading up to that point. They would’ve needed a big stretch to end the season if they were going to make the playoffs.

The Hornets’ front office was busy over the offseason with many extensions, the draft and free agency. The team didn’t really improve through the latter, but the additions should be able to help them improve in ratings. A season ago, they ranked near the bottom of the league in both Offense (109.2, 30) and Defense (115.2, 20). They finished the season with a NET rating of minus-6.1, which ranked 27th in the league.

Key Additions:

Brandon Miller

There was rumors about the Hornets going back and forth between Scoot Henderson and Miller, but once it was their turn to draft… they wasted no time. Selecting Miller with the No. 2 overall pick, the Hornets made it clear they believed in Ball and the combination of Terry Rozier III and Miles Bridges in the backcourt. As of now it looks like the former will start. Miller is an athletically talented SF/PF with a 6-9 frame. Many draft analysts have compared him to Paul George. With Bridges potentially out a while, I would expect Miller to start at one of the forward positions.

Edmond Sumner

A valuable combo guard who averaged 7.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He was waived by the Brooklyn Nets early in the offseason. Though, he’s not guaranteed a roster spot but considering how thin the Hornets are at point.

Amari Bailey

Another guy that will be able to play combo guard for the Hornets. Bailey is on a two-way deal which means the Hornets can let him develop while also not having to carry him on the main roster all season. He was one of the most talented and highly regarded prospects that UCLA has had in the past decade. Last year, he averaged 11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals as a freshman.

Key Losses:

Dennis Smith Jr.

The Charlotte Hornets didn’t really give themselves a replacement at the backup PG heading into the 2023-24 season. They picked up Sumner and Frank Ntilikina in free agency and drafted Nick Smith Jr and Bailey. The four will be battling it out for the spot. You could say that last season was a breakout for Smith, averaging 8.8 points, 4.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Hornets made Oubre an integral part of their offense last year an he succeeded. With averages of 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 steals. They made an attempt to bring him back, but ultimately he chose to sign with Philly.

Projected Roster:

Starters: Ball, Rozier, Miller, PJ Washington, Mark Williams

A similar starting group to last year, although now just a bit younger with Williams and Miller added. This has been the lineup that the Hornets have rolled with in their preseason games. That’ll likely continue into the regular season.

Bench: Gordon Hayward, Sumner, Cody Martin, Nick Richards, JT Thor, RJ Hunter, Smith Jr, Bryce McGowens, Nathan Mensah, Bridges

This may be one of the best bench units in the NBA. Hayward and Martin could be starters. Combine those two veterans with the young guys this team has. That’s not even including that one of Bridges, Miller or Washington could be here when Bridges’ suspension is up.

Season Outlook:

Ball should be in line to pick up the Most Improved player award if he picks up where he left off. If he does end up playing like he was, this is a playoff team. That is as long as the team chemistry isn’t busted with Bridges still around. FanDuel has given them +50000 odds to win the NBA Championship. I would expect the Charlotte Hornets to finish the 2023-24 season at 38-44. They’ll make the play-in and sneak into the playoffs.

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