By no stretch are the Charlotte Hornets a better team without LaMelo Ball. Let’s get that out of the way right now.
Still, the Hornets are putting up some impressive stats through their first four games of the 2022-23 season with Ball sidelined. Miles Bridges is also out, maybe for good, and Terry Rozier has missed two of the four games. That makes this even more impressive, even if they’re still just 2-2 on the season, and StatMuse pointed out these five stats showing some unexpected potential for this team.
Hornets are No. 1 in points per game
The Hornets’ offense has looked pretty damn good. They are finding easy shots and making the tightly contested ones. They’re pouring in 124.5 points per game, which is the most in the NBA so far. Terry Rozier is leading the way with 23.5 points per game and Gordon Hayward is not too far behind with a 19.8 scoring average of his own. Charlotte has five other guys averaging double-digits in points as well. The ball is moving well in Charlotte on a nightly basis early on. They even have five guys averaging at least three assists per game right now, which might be sustainable even when their star returns.
No. 1 in 3-point percentage
The Hornets are shooting 41.7 % from deep in this early stretch. That should not surprise anyone. Where there is good ball movement, open shots on the perimeter usually present themselves. It is just up to the team to actually knock them down consistently. Eight guys on the roster are shooting 30% or better from 3-point range in the early going. Shooters do go through hot and cold stretches throughout the course of the season, so hopefully the Hornets can keep up this blistering pace moving forward. Even if they don’t, settling in somewhere in the high 30s would be good.
No. 2 in field goal percentage
The Hornets are making nearly half of their attempts at 49.5% from the field. They’ve taken smart shots and have done a good job executing their sets. It’s a big plus when one of your players in Nick Richards usually only takes easy shots around the basket. Richards is currently shooting over 71% from the field and did not miss a shot in his last two games against the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.
No. 4 in offensive rating
With the three wonderful stats above, anyone could have guessed that their offensive rating would be high. Through the first four games, it is sitting around 118. They do a lot of things right on offense on a nightly basis so far. Despite Steve Clifford being known more as a defensive mind, it seems he has unlocked the offensive potential of his unit.
No. 7 in net rating
After being a poor defensive team in years past, they have picked it up on that end, at least somewhat. Their offense has never been issue. Things have merged well together on both sides of the ball. Their net rating is almost seven.
These stats are sure to fluctuate as the season progresses. Still, the numbers are fun to look at, especially since they are missing a star-caliber player in LaMelo Ball. He is the head of the snake for this franchise, so it is reassuring that they have not missed him too much on the court early on in 2022-23. Again, they are still not a better team without him, but these are good signs.