3 reasons Hornets will surprise everyone in 2021-22 NBA season
The Charlotte Hornets have done a lot over the 2021 offseason to build up their roster to compete, adding talented rookies like James Bouknight and Kai Jones while acquiring veterans in Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ish Smith. It doesn’t seem like much to the average NBA fan, but these moves will be helpful.
Alongside LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward, management did exactly what they needed to do to keep this team competitive. The Hornets have a nice roster with a blend of young talent and veterans who know how to get the job done. Many people will still sleep on this squad, but here are three reasons why they better wake up and realize that this Charlotte Hornets team is ready to surprise everybody.
3 reasons Hornets will surprise the world
James Borrego has been at the helm for three years and has posted a 95-124 record. That’s not great at all, but they have extended his contract and the arrow is pointing up. Sticking with one coach creates stability within any organization. Many of those losses should eventually turn into wins.
The 2020-21 season was the perfect example. Before LaMelo Ball’s injury, the team was above .500 and sitting at the No. 4 spot in the East.
Barring no major injuries, the Hornets could very well find themselves in the thick of playoff contention, especially because the guys returning to the team will have another year in Borrego’s system. Despite losing some key rotation players in free agency, they still have their young core intact. Everyone will get to see what the Hornets are made out of, and re-signing Borrego was the first step.
2. Better Than Advertised
Young or old, this team has talent. The Hornets don’t get a bunch of nationally televised games like the glamour markets, but they can play. Ball might have stolen all the headlines because of his rookie season, but several other guys are vital to their success.
Rozier received a massive contract extension for a reason. He led the team in scoring and is their go-to scorer in clutch time. Hayward looked more like himself after suffering that horrific leg injury a few years ago, though he did still deal with injury issues.
While Ball and Hayward were all out last year, Miles Bridges picked up the slack. He had several 20-point games that helped them get into the play-In tournament before he had to sit out due to health and safety protocols. Plus, let’s not forget P.J. Washington’s timely buckets last season and the young guns coming in ready to play.
The Hornets are a small-market team, but it definitely doesn’t mean they can’t play this game at a high level.
1. Ball is Life
Well, this should be no surprise to anyone. LaMelo Ball is the head of the snake for this team.
Offensively, we saw Ball dominate the game in a multitude of ways. He is a dynamic pass-first player with the ability to score as well. His ability to find his teammates for easy buckets in transition is unmatched. He already declared himself the league’s best passer, and he might just be right.
Ball’s star is already shining bright despite not even being old enough to drink yet. Charlotte will go as far as he can take them, and there’s no reason to expect a sophomore slump in Year 2. In fact, he should be a better player after actually having a proper offseason. COVID-19 disrupted that last season, but now he has time to actually build chemistry with his teammates.
The bottom line is 2021-22 should be an awesome year for LaMelo Ball, and he could even challenge for an All-Star spot.
Many can argue that the Hornets’ youth and inexperience will be their downfall. The players mentioned above are not first-ballot Hall of Famers. They’re not all 10-year vets. Hell, a lot of them don’t even have playoff experience, so how will they get there?
Well, look at the Atlanta Hawks from last year. They were in the same boat as the Hornets. Trae Young and company did play a couple more seasons together, but they came together at the right time. Suddenly they found themselves a couple of wins away from competing in the NBA Finals.
No, the Hornets will not make it to the NBA Finals in 2021-22. They just have a chance to make it to the playoffs and be a raging thorn in somebody’s side. They are capable of winning a playoff series and could go on a Cinderella run if things work out in their favor.
Make sure you don’t sleep on the boys from Buzz City, otherwise you’ll get stung.