3 players who will take the next step for Hornets
The 2021-22 NBA season is going to be a pivotal one for the Charlotte Hornets. New Hornet Mason Plumlee describes them as “young and hungry.” They should be in the thick of the playoff hunt at the end of the season. There are a lot of bridges that they will have to cross to get to a level where opposing teams will dread playing them. It all starts with a few key players and how much they’ve grown over the offseason. Everyone man down to the 15th roster spot is important, but three of them need to take a major step to elevate this team to the next level.
Everyone was impressed by Terry Rozier’s breakout season. He put up career highs across the board in points, assists, and shooting percentages. The expectations are that he should be able to replicate that kind of play or better. He is looked at as a leader for this young squad and rightfully so. He has a decent amount of playoff experience from his days with the Boston Celtics, so he is itching to get back.
Rozier mentioned on media day that they should be a playoff team this season and if they aren’t, then this season was a failure. It is a realistic goal for this squad. Rozier should be a key cog for the Hornets’ success this season as the go-to scorer and clutch performer.
Miles Bridges is entering year four with the Hornets. Early on, Bridges was just a walking highlight reel. He made his name off flashy dunks and posterizing the opposition. This past season, we saw Bridges’ game grow into a knockdown shooter and the team’s best perimeter defender. He even showed that he can create his own shot last season if given the opportunity. Bridges has gotten better every year and could definitely explode for a big season in the 2021-22 season.
Whether he was starting or coming off the bench, Bridges showed his value on both sides of the ball. He mentioned on media day that he isn’t worried about starting or coming off the bench, he just wants to win. They’ll win a lot of games, if Bridges can step up and be a star sixth man. Or if he can become a reliable third option in the starting lineup.
LaMelo Ball had a dazzling rookie year and the whole league knows it. However, now teams will have a general idea of how to make the reigning Rookie of the Year uncomfortable. He was the the head of snake in transition and helped the Hornets find easy ways to score in the open floor. Maybe teams will decide to put a body on him once the Hornets’ possession starts to slow the pace. Or maybe they switch a bigger defender onto him in transition. Who knows? Either way, Ball’s game should have improved and adjusted to whatever might be thrown his way.
Ball is looked at as the franchise player and rightfully so. His talent is immense, but in order to survive in this league, he will have to get better every year. He came into the league with a target on his back because of his family name. Obviously being in a TV show, having your own signature shoe, and being the face of a shoe brand will do that to you. Thankfully, he still ended up being really freaking good at basketball. The world is expecting him to do well from this point on and he probably expects it for himself.
If anything, the man is confident. He did already claim he is better than his older brother Lonzo already. Not too sure about you, but claiming you’re better than an older sibling equals a war when family game nights happen.
Of course, PJ Washington, James Bouknight, Mason Plumlee, and several others mean a lot for this team’s success. It is just less pressure on them to perform than the three mentioned above. That doesn’t mean that they won’t need to have good seasons to make this team great. From what everyone has seen on social media, the Hornets have done a lot of team bonding all summer long. Highlighted by the runs Rozier ran in Miami and James Borrego inviting everyone to his house the night before media day.
The Hornets haven’t competed in a playoff series since 2016. They had a few down seasons, but now it looks like things will change. They’re legit and it finally looks like it is time for them to compete.