In a bid to to beef up their roster with LaMelo Ball at the core, the Charlotte Hornets picked up swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. and veteran guard Ish Smith from the free-agent market.
While they seem decent signings, the Hornets certainly could've done better in filling the void in their guard spots. Nevertheless, these new additions definitely possess some great value and will no doubt boost Charlotte's rebuilding process.
With that said, let's grade the team's two signings this free agency.
Kelly Oubre Jr.: B+
After his subpar season with the Golden State Warriors, Kelly Oubre Jr. now has a chance to bounce back donning the Hornets jersey. The man was highly inconsistent with the Warrior, struggling mightily in the first few games of the 2020-21 season. Good thing he was able to get his rhythm later on which pretty much retained his value.
What Oubre Jr. will bring to the Hornets is his slashing and rebounding ability. He averaged 15.4 points and 6.0 rebounds last season. Rebounding seems to be his number one asset as he ranked seventh among small forwards.
It's difficult to tell if the Hornets were able to steal Oubre from the market. The departure of Devonte’ Graham (via sign-and-trade) and Malik Monk might have sent them in a panic to get some depth in the backcourt.
However, Oubre might have no other choice but to play a backup role with the Hornets since the team has Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges. Warriors fans can attest to this: Oubre Jr. isn't too comfortable coming off the bench at this point of his career, which is also the reason why he didn't explore re-signing with Golden State.
The veteran swingman likely knew the situation when he inked that two-year, $26 million deal. But you can never really tell once the season begins. A battle may ensue for the starting wing spots.
Ish Smith: B
The Hornets' acquisition of veteran Ish Smith was obviously an effort to fill in the void at the point guard spot. The 33-year-old Smith will effectively be LaMelo Ball's back-up guard—a role he has played for most of his 11-year NBA career. He's a decent playmaker, averaging 3.9 assists per game for his career. When you've been in the league that long, it's safe to say you know how to play the game.
Apart from orchestrating the offense when Ball sits, Smith will provide mentorship to the young guard and the rest of the team as well. The likes of Bismack Biyombo and Gordon Hayward have done a good job at mentoring Ball. As a point guard himself, Smith will speak the same language with Melo. This is a key part of the rebuilding process, and it was smart of the Hornets front office to get the 33-year-old.
The only qualm about this acquisition is Smith's longevity with the team. A year of steady mentorship is good. Two to three seasons are even better. The Hornets had enough cap space to spend on some notable unrestricted free agents like Avery Bradley, Austin Rivers, or maybe even Elfrid Payton. This would've also given them the depth on the backcourt they desperately need.