Previewing the 2023-24 Charlotte Hornets

September 6th, 2023

by Alan Lu

At the end of last season, the Charlotte Hornets had surprisingly fired head coach James Borrego after they got walloped in the play-in tournament once again, but LaMelo Ball had taken the next leap to become an NBA All-Star. They decided to turn over the reins to head coach Steve Clifford, who used to coach them back when Kemba Walker used to play for them as a star player.

The Hornets looked to employ more of a defensive mentality, but Ball got hurt early in the season, which derailed their plans and effectively dashed their hopes for a shot at the playoffs. The Hornets were one of the worst teams in the NBA last year, and Miles Bridges also did not play last season, as he was an unsigned restricted free agent, and had been embroiled a tumultuous domestic case, as he had plead no contest early last season.

This season, they were able to add rookie forward Brandon Miller in the draft, and they are hoping to have a healthy LaMelo Ball for the whole year. Still, as they have not made the playoffs since 2016, they will have a very tough task ahead of them if they plan on doing so for this season.

Former All-Star guard LaMelo Ball has the talent to help his team contend for a play-in tournament spot in the East, but the Hornets were just not very good last year.
(Photo: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Swarm and Sting)

Star Players:

G-F LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball is an exciting, playmaking point forward that was one of the best young players in the NBA before he got hurt last season. He was able to come back, but he wasn’t able to quite have the same impact that he had in previous years. Still, he is a tremendous playmaker that can elevate the play of everyone else around him. The next challenge for him will be to get his team to the playoffs, but even still, he is a very skilled player that is the Hornets’ cornerstone, franchise player, and they will build around both now and for the foreseeable future.

Additions:

F Brandon Miller, F Miles Bridges, G Frank Ntilikina, G Nick Smith Jr., and G Amari Bailey

After Bridges sat out the entire season due his domestic case, he’ll be returning to Charlotte. While he comes in as a character risk, he also was very productive in his previous tenure with the Hornets, so they’ll be getting a solid player that could add wins to their team. Brandon Miller is a very talented rookie that could earn a lot of playing time due to his strong shooting ability and solid set of skills, and Frank Ntilikina is a defensive-minded playmaker that can play either guard spot, and could end up in Charlotte’s rotation this year.

Subtractions:

F Kelly Oubre, G Dennis Smith Jr., and G-F Svi Mykhailiuk

Among their key losses, they lose a veteran swingman in Kelly Oubre, as his ability to pack a scoring punch off the bench could’ve given their second unit a boost. Smith hasn’t quite played nearly as well as the lofty expectations when he started out in the league, but he was able to show that he can be a reliable playmaker off the bench. Mykhailiuk is a skilled, shooting wing that has been on the fringes of NBA rosters recently, but the main loss for them was Oubre, but that role

Rookies:

F Brandon Miller, G Nick Smith Jr., and G Amari Bailey

All three of the rookies could potentially see significant playing time on this year’s Charlotte team, but their most notable rookie is their second overall pick, forward Brandon Miller. He is a very athletic, sharpshooting forward that has the ability to guard multiple positions, and he could be a likely candidate to make one of the All-Rookie teams this year.

Expected Rotation:

After missing a full season as he was embroiled in a major offseason incident, Miles Bridges will be back to play for the Hornets this year.
(Phoro: John Minchillo/The Associated Press, via The New York Times)

The Hornets’ starting lineup could depend heavily on Ball staying healthy, and Bridges being able to play a full season likely will give them a boost. They underperformed significantly and played poorly on both sides of the ball last year, but their solid talent level in the starting five will allow them to be competitive this season.

Projected Starting Lineup:

C Mark Williams

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F Miles Bridges

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F Gordon Hayward

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G LaMelo Ball

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G Terry Rozier

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Key Bench Players:

Rookie Brandon Miller could earn plenty of minutes off the bench on the Charlotte Hornets’ team this season, and he could give their bench a significant boost this year.
(Photo: Rocky Widmer/NBAE via Getty Images, via DraftKings Network)

The Hornets were able to re-sign P.J. Washington to really bolster their bench, and Brandon Miller could give them really good minutes for them this season. Still, they don’t have as much depth elsewhere, and they will need their younger players to develop more quickly than how they have played for them.

F P.J. Washington

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F Brandon Miller

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C Nick Richards

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F-C Kai Jones

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G-F Cody Martin

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The Rest of the Roster:

G Frank Ntilikina

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G-F Bryce McGowens

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G Amari Bailey (Two-Way)

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G Nick Smith Jr.

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F-C JT Thor

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G James Bouknight

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G-F Leaky Black (Two-Way)

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Others in Camp:

G Kobe Simmons

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C Nathan Mensah (Exhibit 10)

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G-F Angelo Allegri (Exhibit 10)

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F Tre Scott

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Head Coach:

Steve Clifford will coach the Charlotte Hornets once again for the 2023-24 NBA season.
(Photo: Nell Richmond/USA Today Sports, via Orlando Pinstriped Post)

Steve Clifford
2022-23 (CHO): 27-55, missed the playoffs
Coaching Career: 319-400, 5-16 in the NBA Playoffs

Steve Clifford was hired to lead the Hornets once again, but it was a disastrous season in which their superstar guard, LaMelo Ball was injured for a good portion of their season. They weren’t good on either side of the ball, but they were also without one of their top players, Miles Bridges, due to a domestic incident he was involved in combined with that he had not re-signed with them yet. Still, the Hornets were one of the worst teams last year, but historically, Clifford is a defensive minded coach that could at least help them a little bit on that side of the ball.

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Outlook:

The Charlotte Hornets made a surprising move to fire James Borrego at the end of the 2021-22 season, but so far their move to re-hire Steve Clifford in a head coach role hasn’t paid off so far. They’ll need to start winning games for that move to pay dividends this time around.
(Photo: David Jensen/Getty Images, via Hoops Wire)

The Charlotte Hornets were not very good last season, but that can be somewhat excused as Ball missed a lot of time due to injuries, and they were without Bridges last year. Still, they were not good on either side of the ball, and they will need their younger players to develop faster, as they they played a lot of young players that just weren’t very productive last season. The Hornets might play a bit better than expected, but in the very competitive Eastern Conference, they could still wind up finishing at the bottom of the standings in 2024.

Projected 2023-24 Finish:
Projected Regular Season Finish: 15th in the Eastern Conference
Expected Playoff Finish: Projected to miss the playoffs
2023-24 Preseason NBA Power Ranking: 28

I went to Basketball-Reference and No-Trade Clause to look up some information for this write-up. It will be an exciting basketball season this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing the in-season tournament to see how that will unfold. Anyways, that is my write-up on my preview of the 2023-24 Charlotte Hornets. Thanks for reading.

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