Grading the 2021-22 Charlotte Hornets

June 7th, 2022

By Alan Lu

After having made it to the play-in tournament last season, things appeared to be on the up and up for the Charlotte Hornets.  LaMelo Ball won the Rookie of the Year award last year, and he then was named to the All-Star team this season.  The Hornets won 43 games in the regular season under head coach James Borrego.

However, there were allegedly some seeds of discontent, as some of the players chafed about playing time and the roles that were distributed on the team by Borrego.  They got blown out again in the play-in tournament, and missed the playoffs, and at the season’s end, their head coach, James Borrego got fired by the Hornets.

Key Players:

Charlotte Hornets’ second-year guard, LaMelo Ball made his first All-Star team in the NBA this season.
(Photo:
Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports, via Yardbarker.com)

LaMelo Ball
2021-22 (CHO): 20.1 PPG, 7.6 APG, 6.7 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 43 FG%, 39 3PT%, 87 FT%, 55 TS%, 19.7 PER, 5.8 WS

He had a terrific second season in the NBA, and he was able to make his first All-Star team in this league.  He did a great job of shooting, scoring, and distributing the basketball, and he also rebounded the ball well.  He hasn’t played well in the play-in tournament games, but he is a tall, skilled point forward that has proved himself to be a franchise player for the Hornets.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 3 stars (4.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Starter on the Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets’ forward, Miles Bridges played very well for his team this season.
(Photo:
Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s Sir Charles in Charge)

Miles Bridges
2021-22 (CHO): 20.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.8 RPG, 49 FG%, 33 3PT%, 80 FT%, 59 TS%, 17.9 PER, 7.2 WS

He also played very well for the Hornets this past season.  While he didn’t quite shoot as well as he did last year, Bridges expanded upon his game to be much more of a scorer and distributor, and he took on a considerably heavier workload on offense.  He asserted himself to be one of the best players on the team this season.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 3 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starter on the Charlotte Hornets

Gordon Hayward
2021-22 (CHO): 15.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.0 SPG, 46 FG%, 39 3PT%, 85 FT%, 57 TS%, 15.1 PER, 2.8 WS

Hayward had a fairly solid season this past year, as he provided versatility and a wide array of skills, but he struggled more on the defensive end, and he only played 49 games this season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starter on the Charlotte Hornets

Terry Rozier
2021-22 (CHO): 19.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 44 FG%, 37 3PT%, 85 FT%, 57 TS%, 17.6 PER, 5.9 WS

He is an athletic, score-first point guard that did a good job of knocking down shots on offense, and he turned in another productive season for the Hornets this year.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starter on the Charlotte Hornets

Mason Plumlee
2021-22 (CHO): 6.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 64 FG%, 0 3PT%, 39 FT%, 60 TS%, 14.7 PER, 4.7 WS

He was the Hornets’ starting center, and he provided rebounding, playmaking skills, and rim protection for their team this past season.  He didn’t score much, but he brought an interior presence to help them, especially on the offensive end.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starter on the Charlotte Hornets

P.J. Washington
2021-22 (CHO): 10.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 47 FG%. 37 3PT%, 72% FT, 59 TS%, 13.6 PER, 3.4 WS

He is a skilled, versatile bench player that thrived at making plays on both ends of the floor for the Hornets.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Montrezl Harrell
2021-22 (WAS/CHO): 13.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 65 FG%, 24 3PT%, 72 FT%, 68 TS%, 23.2 PER, 7.3 WS

He is an athletic, energetic big man that thrived as a scorer and rebounder off the bench, and he was traded from Washington to the Hornets midseason.

2022 Season Grade: B-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Side note: Harrell will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Cody Martin
2021-22 (CHO): 7.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 48 FG%, 38 3PT%, 70 FT%, 58 TS%, 12.7 PER, 3.9 WS

He played very well this past season, and he thrived as a shooter, facilitator, and defender for the Hornets this year.

2022 Season Grade: A-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Other Notable Players:

Kelly Oubre

He is an athletic, skilled swingman that can score the basketball, but he’s been inconsistent with his jump shot, and didn’t seem to add much playmaking or defense to the Hornets this past season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Jalen McDaniels

He is a tall, athletic combo forward that shot the ball well off the bench, but he didn’t get substantially more playing time than last year, and he didn’t seem to make as much of an impact in the other areas of the game.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

James Bouknight

Bouknight didn’t shoot the ball very well in limited minutes with the Hornets, and the 2021 lottery pick just didn’t play very much this past season.  He played significantly better in the G-League, but he was inconsistent as a shooter all year long, and he also didn’t defend very well in the NBA this year.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Other Players on the Roster:

Kai Jones

He played very well in the G-League, but Jones barely played in the NBA.  In the NBA, he was efficient as a scorer on offense, but he didn’t rebound or defend well, nor take enough shots on offense.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Nick Richards

He played well in limited minutes, and he was very efficient as an inside scorer for the Hornets.  He also played very well in the G-League, but Richards didn’t see the floor very much in the NBA this season.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Arnoldas Kulboka (Two-Way Player)

He barely played for the Hornets in the NBA, so he wasn’t really given much of an opportunity to prove himself at that level, but the 6-10 sharpshooting forward shot the ball very well in the G-League.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Isaiah Thomas

It’s very good that Isaiah Thomas made his way back to the NBA.  He had an up and down season overall, but after being unable to stick with the Lakers or Mavericks, Thomas played very well for the Hornets, and he showed that he can still shoot and score the basketball in this league.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on an NBA team

JT Thor

He is a young, athletic big man that didn’t play much in the NBA, and also played in the G-League.  He didn’t shoot the ball very well at either level, but he had some good games, and he played solid defense in the G-League this season.

2022 Season Grade: C-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Scottie Lewis (Two-Way Player)

He barely played in the NBA, but he is an athletic swingman that played very good defense in the G-League this year.  He didn’t shoot the ball very well or take care of the basketball that well in the G-League, but his athleticism and defense could allow him to get some minutes in the NBA next season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Charlotte Hornets

Previous Head Coach:
James Borrego
2021-22 (CHO): 43-39, 10th in the Eastern Conference, missed the playoffs

He did a very good job of developing LaMelo Ball, and he helped his team win more games than expected in the regular season.  However, they did a poor job of competing or playing in the play-in tournament for the second year in a row, and they were quickly eliminated from playoff contention once again. 

On top of that, there were rumblings of discord between him and his younger players, especially over his handling of them and distribution of playing time, and they also struggled defensively under his watch.  He then was fired by the Charlotte Hornets at the end of this season.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Assistant Head Coach in the NBA, Head Coach in College, or TV Analyst

The Charlotte Hornets’ Projected 2022-23 Rotation:
C Mason Plumlee
F Miles Bridges
F Gordon Hayward
G LaMelo Ball
G Terry Rozier
____________________
F P.J. Washington
G Kelly Oubre
13th Overall Pick
15th Overall Pick
G James Bouknight

The Charlotte Hornets’ Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#13, #15, #45

The Charlotte Hornets’ Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
34-48, 11th in the Eastern Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:
The Hornets are projected to be capped out, so they won’t have much money to spend in the offseason.  They will have to maneuver via trades and the draft, but they do have two picks in the top 15 of the 2022 draft.  They will need to select a player that fits with the skills of LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges.  The Hornets excelled in most facets of the game, but they will need to improve their defense moving forward, and they will need players that can play well in big games.

It will be interesting to see what the Charlotte Hornets will do moving forward. They will need a new head coach for sure, and they will need someone that can do a better job of effectively communicating to their players while also still placing emphasis on development and winning. They have two very good young players in LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, but it’s uncertain if they will be trending upwards, as they haven’t been able to win in the play-in tournament, and the players they selected in the 2021 draft haven’t developed nearly as fast or as well as hoped. On the other hand, they do have some very talented players on their roster. The Hornets will definitely need to improve their defense, but they also need to continue to add more shooters, playmakers, and depth in order to improve their team for next season.

I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes. Thanks for reading.

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