A Preview of the 2022-23 Charlotte Hornets
September 16th, 2022
By Alan Lu
The Charlotte Hornets received a banner year from LaMelo Ball last season, who was able to make his first All-Star team. He is an agile, skilled point forward that has strong offensive skills, and he is a shot creator that has tremendous court vision. The Hornets won 43 games under then head coach James Borrego, but they ended up getting blown out of the play-in tournament once again, and were eliminated from playoff contention. As management was frustrated with their play-in tournament woes and lack of improvement on the defensive end, they fired Borrego and went with head coach Steve Clifford to lead them for the upcoming season.
This year, they didn’t make many changes, aside from changing head coaches, and they also selected Duke’s sophomore center Mark Williams in the draft. The Hornets project to be mostly the same team that they were before, except they will lose Miles Bridges, as they have elected not to re-sign him, especially since he was arrested and embroiled in a domestic case. They also lost Montrezl Harrell to Philadelphia and Isaiah Thomas in the offseason, and they will bank on their returning players to improve to try to get to the playoffs.
G-F LaMelo Ball
He is a very agile, skilled point forward that excels at creating shots for himself and others and will rack up many assists on the court. Ball is a consistent triple-double threat that has improved his long-range skills, and he is the Hornets’ franchise player for the foreseeable future.
Mark Williams is a very tall, athletic center that will provide a strong interior presence for the Charlotte Hornets. He is a vertical lob threat that will throw down towering dunks to score on offense, and he excels at rebounding, blocking shots, and protecting the paint. He will need to expand his skill set on offense, but he will shore up the Hornets’ interior both this season and in the future.
Last season, Miles Bridges had emerged as one of the best forwards in the Eastern Conference, and he thrived as a scorer and defender last year. He appeared to be due for a big payday when that suddenly came to a screeching halt just before the offseason began, when he was arrested and embroiled in a domestic case, and if convicted, that could effectively end his professional basketball career (although he is currently unsigned, and probably won’t sign with an NBA team any time soon).
Montrezl Harrell is a former Sixth Man of the Year award winner that thrived as an energetic big man that would provide points and rebounds off the bench. Isaiah Thomas is a former star guard that can shoot and score the basketball, but he’s bounced around as a journeyman ever since he was traded away from the Boston Celtics years ago.
There will likely be ample playing time for Mark Williams, and he has a skill set that could enable him to play immediately as an athletic rim protector for the Charlotte Hornets. As for Bryce McGowens, he might not play right away as he is on a two-way contract, but he is a very athletic swingman that has considerable upside and could crack the rotation as the season progresses.
Projected Starting Lineup:
G LaMelo Ball (3 stars, 4 stars potential)
Key Bench Players:
G-F Cody Martin
G-F Kelly Oubre Jr.
F-C JT Thor
The Rest of the Roster (projected to make the team):
G-F Bryce McGowens
Others In Camp:
G Jaylen Crutcher (Exhibit 10)
F Anthony Duruji (Exhibit 10)
G-F Jaylen Sims (Exhibit 10)
F-C Isaiah Whaley (Exhibit 10)
2021-22 (N/A): N/A
Career: 292-345, 5-16 in the NBA Playoffs
Clifford is an old school, defensive minded coach that has coached for Charlotte and Orlando, and has made it to the playoffs in four of his eight seasons, but he’s never gotten out of the first round in any of the seasons he’s coached. After having been fired by Charlotte years ago, he’s returning back to them, but it’s unclear if they will implement a reliable offensive system and he hasn’t proven that he can sustainably win in big games.
The Charlotte Hornets drafted Mark Williams, but that said, it didn’t feel like they made major upgrades to their team, as they also lost a couple of solid veterans, and they hired a head coach that they have fired once already. The Hornets seem to be basically running back the same team, but with Williams, and without Miles Bridges or Montrezl Harrell in their rotation.
The Hornets do have one of the best guards in the league in LaMelo Ball. Terry Rozier is a scoring combo guard that is coming off perhaps his best season, Gordon Hayward is a former All-Star that is a versatile role player when healthy, and P.J. Washington is a skilled stretch four that can shoot and defend. But as the Eastern Conference is getting stronger, the Hornets could find themselves falling just short of a playoff bid once again in 2023.
Projected 2022-23 Win-Loss Record and Finish:
Projected Regular Season Finish: 37-45, 13th in the Eastern Conference
Expected Playoff Finish: Projected to miss the playoffs
I went to Basketball-Reference and Spotrac to look up some information for this write-up. It will be an exciting basketball season this year, and the NBA season will start on October 18th. Thank you for reading my write-up of the 2023 Charlotte Hornets.