The Charlotte Hornets finished last season at 36-46, which made them a lottery bid team. The Hornets then focused their offseason on bringing in young players full of potential. Charlotte made sure to bring in a couple veteran guys to help develop their youth, but it still seems like the Hornets are going through a rebuild.
Charlotte is in a division with the Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat. Last season Washington and Miami finished above Charlotte, but neither team made it far in the playoffs. I believe that this division is prime for the taking.
Even though Walker could be traded, for the sake of this article we will assume he starts the season with Charlotte. Walker would start at the Point Guard position, while Nicolas Batum will start at Shooting Guard. Walker led the team in points per game last season with 22.1, while dishing out 5.6 assists per game. Batum averaged 11.6 points per game with 5.5 assists.
Charlotte picked up veteran Point Guard Tony Parker during the offseason. Parker saw career lows in points per game, assists per game and minutes played last season. He is thirty-six years old, so I do not expect him to fill more than a leadership role for the team.
The Hornets have Jeremy Lamb, who fills a nice bench role. Lamb averaged almost 13 points per game last season. He only saw 18 starts in 80 games, so do not expect him to see a lot of starting minutes this year.
Monk is there biggest prospect at the Guard spot and I believe he could breakout this year. Monk averaged 6.7 points per game last season, but I believe we will see his role increase throughout this year.
The Hornets have a solid backcourt with Walker leading it. If Malik Monk can take the next step it will give Charlotte a major boost. While question marks surrounding Walker continue to be a concern, I believe that this backcourt could be in the top half at the end of the season.
The Hornets will likely have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams start in the two forward roles this season. Williams averaged 9.5 points per game last season. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 9.2 points per game. Both players started every game they appeared in.
After Kidd-Gilchrist and Williams on the depth chart, the Hornets have a bunch of young players at the Forward position. Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon and Arnoldas Kulboka are all listed as Small Forwards for the Hornets.
After Williams there are no true Power Forwards on the roster. I would expect some Centers to be inserted into the lineup as Power Forwards. Charlotte has five players listed on their roster as Centers, so to get them all some playing time, expect some to move around in the lineup.
The Hornets decided to part ways with Dwight Howard during the offseason. Howard averaged 16.6 points per game and 12.5 rebounds last season. Howard’s absence will allow Frank Kaminsky to get a taste of the starting lineup. If Kaminsky can produce, it would lead to his much-anticipated breakout campaign.
Charlotte picked up Bismack Biyombo in the offseason to fill in a bench role alongside Cody Zeller. Biyombo is coming off a less than exciting campaign with the Orlando Magic. Zeller and Biyombo will look to add a spark coming off the bench, but I would not expect much from either player.
The Center spot is the weakest link on this Hornets roster. Unless Kaminsky can have a breakout year, I would not expect much offense from the Hornets center spot.
The Hornets have a young team with quite a bit of talent. They have multiple player poised to have breakout campaigns. Last season Charlotte finished with 36 wins on the season. This year BetOnline puts the Hornets win total at 35 ½.
I believe the best bet for this Hornets team is picking over 35 ½ wins. Charlotte looks to be around the same caliber as last season. The Hornets are in the Eastern Conference, which means they have a much easier schedule then if they were in the West. If anything, the Hornets young players could add a spark to this team that could put them in a possible race for a playoff spot.