The Charlotte Hornets could use a rebranding and that's not just in terms of their ownership.
A promising core of LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr., P.J. Washington, and Terry Rozier has been undermined by underperformance on the court and distractions off of it. It's been unfortunate, and not just because a team owned by NBA icon Michael Jordan was expected to make noise in the league, not be an afterthought.
Nonetheless, while the Hornets have plenty of decisions to make about their personnel moving forward — executives, coaches, and players alike — they should remain invested in the development of LaMelo.
A player with legitimate superstar potential, a more disciplined version of Ball — a more mature version — could be even more dominant than he is now. That should be the major focus in all things the Hornets consider, including what moves they make this summer and beyond.
With that in mind, here are three early Hornets trade targets for the 2023 offseason.
3 early Hornets trade targets in 2023 NBA offseason
1. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan is no longer too underrated, as fans have begun to realize that his midrange excellence puts him in rarified air considering that he ranks seventh among active players with 21,640 career points.
Averaging 23.5 points and 4.9 assists per game on 47.2 percent shooting from the field over the past 10 seasons, the 33-year-old's age is almost irrelevant due to his play style. Not a player reliant on his athleticism, his skill and basketball IQ allow him to dominate night-in and night-out.
The Hornets, while having a dynamic playmaker in LaMelo and young wings with scoring potential, need a player at least capable of being the second option if not the top dog.
To that point, Ball just averaged a career-high 23.3 points per game in 2022-23. However, due to DeRozan's efficiency and Ball's injury history, Charlotte could be better off letting DeRozan take that weight off of Ball's shoulders.
Regardless, the attention that DeRozan is bound to receive shoulder lessen the amount of defensive pressure that teams are able to put on Ball. His decision-making will make life easier on the entire team.
While they may not strike fear into opponents, Ball, DeRozan and Oubre would be a solid Big Three to begin their rebranding.
2. OG Anunoby
Toronto Raptors wing OG Anunoby is not only one of the best defenders in the league, but one of the more reliable scoring options as well.
Averaging 17.1 points per game over the past two seasons, a larger role might inevitably lead to the 25-year-old becoming a consistent 20-point scorer.
For the Hornets, the biggest draw of Anunoby offensive will be his efficiency from 3.
A career 37.7 percent 3-point shooter, the London native has made 38.6 percent of his threes over the past four seasons. He isn't just a 3-point specialist though, as his field goal percentage (47.6) highlights. Anunoby also knows how to explode above the rim and should the Hornets fail to bring back Oubre, OG will be able to replicate what he brings to the table and more.
Defensively is where Anunoby really shines though.
An elite on-ball defender with positional versatility, the Hornets will want to explore trading guard Rozier to the Raptors in a deal for Anunoby and re-signing Oubre.
The length and defensive potential of the three-man group — Ball, Oubre, and Anunoby — could allow them to dominate as they gel offensively.
3. John Collins
The Atlanta Hawks have been chewing on a John Collins trade for so long, it just seems inevitable that they really do move him.
If so, there could be no better team for him than the Hornets.
Not only is Ball a facilitator built very much in the mold of Trae Young, but Charlotte is unlikely to be under much immediate pressure after changing ownership.
An excellent leaper as a stretch-four, Collins is another player that could replace Washington and Bridges. Unfortunately, he lacks lockdown potential as an on-ball defender, and he's more of a forward-center than combo forward. Nonetheless, at his best defensively, Collins positively impacts a team's interior defense and is at the very least active and engaged when on-ball.
Offensively, he's the type of player that Ball will find above-the-rim and beyond-the-arc as much as possible.
Off-the-court is where Collins may make his biggest mark on the team though.
A gregarious individual with interest in his community, his positive attitude is often infectious, and his disposition will make him a better leader than Bridges was at least.
Aside from improving their on-court product, the Hornets seriously need to think about the personal development of their players. Adding Collins to their core shows that they're doing just that.