Author: Dawson Haywood
The Charlotte Hornets are on a bit of a cold streak at the moment winning only four of their last ten games resulting in the Hornets dropping from 5th in the East to 8th. With LaMelo, Hayward, and Monk out it is very easy for Hornets fans to lower their heads and call it a season. Just another year without making playoffs. Perhaps I’m being a little too optimistic but I believe that Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and Davonte’ Graham can get it done. In these next 18 games, the players that are active are going to have to play some of the best basketball they have ever played. Teams like Toronto, Washington, and Indiana are creeping up and fighting for that #8 seed in the East.
It is difficult to justify the Hornets winning many games against Western Conference opponents but, other than the Nets, 76ers, and the Bucks, the Hornets could really compete against any other team in the East. The two teams not currently in the playoff picture that I would be scared of are Toronto and Indiana. The Hornets have done well at being able to keep games relatively close they just have to figure out how to clutch up during crunch time.
In the 2015-2016 season, Kemba Walker carried the Hornets to their second playoff appearance of the decade. Since a basketball team returned back to Charlotte no team has been able to make it past the first round. The difference between those Charlotte teams and this Charlotte team is that this team is a lot more balanced meaning, we are not relying on one player to show up and ball out to win a game. Instead, if one player is having an off night, another is able to pick up their game to compensate for the lack of production.
At any given moment Miles Bridge, Terry Rozier, Davonte’ Graham, and P.J. Washington can have a career game. Rozier has averaged the most points on this squad and P.J. Washington has led in rebounds for the majority of the season. Often overlooked by Ball and Hayward these two players are big reasons that the Hornets have had as much success as they have had this season, and they are not hurt.
The NBA is consistently competitive in both conferences especially in the bottom three seeds of the playoffs. A losing or winning run towards the end of the season can make or break a team’s playoff hopes. Lucky for the Hornets, the only team that is close to snatching that #8 seed is the Indiana Pacers who are only one game behind and they have been relatively hot recently. The next closest team is the Chicago Bulls who are four games behind and even with picking up Vucevic they are playing the worst basketball they have played all season winning just four of their last sixteen games.
The Hornets are the 9th youngest team in the league with the average age being 24.9 years old. On top of that, they are 5th is lowest average salary (Thanks to the release of Batum this number was brought down). With a young team and money to play with now is the Hornets’ time to become a contender and put an end to being the laughing stock of the Eastern Conference.
One final note, the Hornets need to bring back Rufus the Bobcat. He was the sickest mascot the world ever did see.