The 2019-20 Charlotte Hornets in Review

November 10th, 2020

by Alan Lu

The Charlotte Hornets logo in 2020.
(Source:
NBA.com)

The Charlotte Hornets were not really expected to make the playoffs, and they in fact did not make it to the 2020 postseason.  They have continued to add solid young players to their roster, though.  They signed Terry Rozier to a sizable contract via free agency, and others such as Devonte’ Graham and P.J. Washington far exceeded their expectations this past season.  The Hornets may not have an elite player on their roster and are a very young and inexperienced team that is still in their rebuilding stage in the post-Kemba Walker era, but they will have the 3rd overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, and they will be able to add another core player to their roster.

Also, in case if you need the rubric for my player rating system of projecting NBA players for the 2020-21 season, here is the link. In addition, Basketball-Reference and Spotrac were vital information sites that I used to look at player and team statistics, as well as contract information.

Second-year guard, Devonte’ Graham improved exponentially, and he had a very good season with the Charlotte Hornets in 2020.
(Photo:
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images, via Swarm and Sting)

Devonte’ Graham – A

2020 (CHO): 63 GP, 18.2 PPG, 7.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 38 FG%, 37 3PT%, 82 FT%, 35.1 MPG, 15.8 PER, 3.4 WS

Devonte’ Graham had a terrific season this past year, and it would have been unfathomable that he would play this well considering that he didn’t play nearly as well a season ago.  He excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator, and he was arguably their team’s best player in 2020.  He will need to improve his rebounding and defense, but Graham will likely be the team’s starting point guard in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting point guard with the Charlotte Hornets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Charlotte Hornets’ forward, P.J. Washington had a very good rookie season in 2020.
(Photo:
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images, via Swarm and Sting)

P.J. Washington – A-

2020 (CHO): 12.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 46 FG%, 37 3PT%, 65 FT%, 30.3 MPG, 12.4 PER, 2 WS

He had a very good rookie season for the Charlotte Hornets.  Washington excelled as a shooter and scorer, and he played a solid all-around game for his team.  He will need to improve his free throw shooting, but he could be a solid core player for the Hornets for years to come.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting power forward on the Charlotte Hornets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars (3 star potential)

Terry Rozier signed a lucrative contract to play for his new team, the Charlotte Hornets in the offseason, and he excelled as a shooter and scorer for them this past season.
(Photo:
Mike Strobe/Getty Images, via Swarm and Sting)

Terry Rozier – B-

2020 (CHO): 63 GP, 18.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.1 APG, 42 FG%, 41 3PT%, 87 FT%, 34.3 MPG, 14.8 PER, 3 WS

Terry Rozier had a fairly decent season for the Hornets this season.  He primarily excelled as a shooter and scorer for them, and he was also fairly effective as a distributor this season.  On the other hand, he will really need to improve his defense.  Most likely, he will be a starter for the Hornets once again in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting shooting guard for the Charlotte Hornets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2.5 stars

Big things were expected from Charlotte Hornets’ second-year forward, Miles Bridges in 2020. He scored more points in volume, but he didn’t quite shoot or defend quite as well as anticipated this year.
(Photo:
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, via Swarm and Sting)

Miles Bridges – C

2020 (CHO): 65 GP, 13 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 42 FG%, 33 3PT%, 81 FT%, 30.7 MPG, 12.1 PER, 1.6 WS

Miles Bridges is an athletic swingman that was the team’s starting small forward this past season.  He rebounded the ball well and played unselfishly, but he will need to improve his ability to shoot and score the basketball.  He projects into a 3 and D role for the Hornets, and he could likely get a lot of playing time next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Starting small forward on the Charlotte Hornets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

Cody Zeller – C+

2020 (CHO): 58 GP, 11.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 52 FG%, 23.1 MPG, 18.8 PER, 3.6 WS

He had a fairly good 2020 season, this year.  He rebounded the ball well, played unselfishly, and he was able to make shots inside the paint.  He will need to defend better, but he could see plenty of playing time on the Hornets in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Nicolas Batum – D

2020 (CHO): 22 GP, 3.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 35 FG%, 29 3PT%, 90 FT%, 23 MPG, 9.2 PER, 0.6 WS

Nicolas Batum had his worst year, possibly ever in the NBA, as his shooting percentages (with the exception of his stellar free-throw shooting) and scoring output were way down this season.  Batum struggled to shoot the ball, and he didn’t take many shots on offense in 2020.  On the plus side, he excelled as a facilitator, rebounder, and defender, but his inability to shoot or score made him mostly an offensive liability this season.  Batum is expected to be a mainstay in Charlotte’s rotation, but he will need to shoot the ball much better in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Bismack Biyombo – C+

2020 (CHO): 53 GP, 7.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 54 FG%, 19.4 MPG, 16.1 PER, 2.4 WS

Biyombo had a fairly good season with the Hornets in 2020.  He excelled as a finisher, rebounder, and shot blocker when he was on the floor.  He will need to improve his passing ability and stay away from foul trouble, but he will likely be back to provide his team with solid minutes at the center position in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Rotation player
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Jalen McDaniels – B

2020 (CHO): 16 GP, 5.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 47 FG%, 38 3PT%, 82 FT%, 18.3 MPG, 10.7 PER, 0.5 WS

The athletic, 6-9 forward played well in limited minutes as a rookie this past season.  He excelled at making shots from all over the floor, and he showed versatility with his ability to defend multiple positions.  McDaniels also showed off some rebounding skills, and he could be due for much more playing time with the Hornets in 2021.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2.5 star potential)

Caleb Martin – B

2020 (CHO): 18 GP, 6.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 44 FG%, 54 3PT%, 81 FT%, 17.6 MPG, 12 PER, 0.5 WS

He was a late invite to the Hornets’ summer league team, and Caleb Martin managed to make his team’s regular season roster.  Martin did a great job of making three-point shots to provide floor spacing for the Charlotte Hornets, and he also showed promise as a facilitator and defender.  If he shoots this well, he could be a regular in the Hornets’ rotation next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Cody Martin – C

2020 (CHO): 48 GP, 5.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 43 FG%, 23 3PT%, 65 FT%, 18.8 MPG, 10.5 PER, 1 WS

He is an athletic, skilled playmaker that can run the point, but he struggled to shoot or make shots efficiently this past season.  Martin did rebound and defend well, and if he can shoot the ball significantly better, he could be a worthwhile rotation player for Charlotte next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

For Malik Monk, his scoring averages have steadily gone up as he’s being fed more and more minutes in games, but his outside shooting has not improved. Billed as a sharpshooter coming into the NBA, Monk has never made 35% of his threes in any NBA season yet.
(Photo:
Justin Ford, via CBS Sports)

Malik Monk – C-

2020 (CHO): 55 GP, 10.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 43 FG%, 28 3PT%, 82 FT%, 21.3 MPG, 12.6 PER, 0.7 WS

Malik Monk was able to get numbers in volume, but he struggled to shoot or score efficiently, and he also will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he showed some passing and rebounding skills, but his jump shot has not been as stellar as it once was for Kentucky in college.  Monk will likely be in Charlotte’s rotation in 2021, but there’s less and less optimism that his jump shot will come around.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Dwayne Bacon – D-

2020 (CHO): 39 GP, 5.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 35 FG%, 28 3PT%, 66 FT%, 17.6 MPG, 6.1 PER, -0.8 WS

Dwayne Bacon got considerable playing time this past season, but he struggled to shoot or make shots consistently in 2020.  He did show the ability to rebound, pass, and defend, but he will need to continue to improve his on-ball defense.  Most importantly, he will need to get his jump shot back on track for the 2021 season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Side note: Will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Side note: He has a player option at the end of the 2019-20 season, as he can exercise it to opt in or out of his contract with the Hornets.

Willy Hernangomez – C

2020 (CHO): 31 GP, 6.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 53 FG%, 12.1 MPG, 19.2 PER, 0.8 WS

He did a good job of scoring and rebounding the basketball, and Hernangomez also played unselfishly when he was on the floor.  He will need to cut down on the number of turnovers committed and improve his defense.  He’ll need to find ways to get more playing time, but he could provide some solid minutes for Charlotte off the bench next season.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Fringe rotation player, backend roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars

Side note: Will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Ray Spalding (Two-Way) – Incomplete

2020 (CHO): DNP

He is an athletic big man who missed the entire 2019-20 season due to a knee injury.  When healthy, he is a very good rebounder that can finish plays around the basket, and he could project to be an energy big man off the bench.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth big man, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1.5 stars (2 star potential)

Kobi Simmons (Two-Way) – Incomplete

2020 (CHO): DNP

He didn’t play in the NBA this past season, but he played over 600 minutes as a rookie for the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2017-18 season.  When healthy, he is a secondary ball mover that could project to be a shooter off the bench, but Simmons will need to make shots much more efficiently to earn playing time at the NBA level.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Depth guard, fringe roster player
Projected 2021 Rating: 1 stars (2 star potential)

Head Coach:
James Borrego, season grade: C
2020 (CHO): 23-42, missed the playoffs
Head coaching career: 72-105, has never made the playoffs as an NBA head coach

The Charlotte Hornets weren’t expected to be very good or to earn a playoff spot, and they didn’t get one this season.  They did receive strong seasons from Devonte’ Graham and P.J. Washington, and others such as Jalen McDaniels and Caleb Martin played well in limited minutes.

However, there were others such as Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon, who saw their development stall, as they struggled to produce within the playing time they were allotted.

Projected 2021 Role/Expectations: Head coach of the Charlotte Hornets
Projected 2021 Rating: 2 stars

The 2019-20 Charlotte Hornets, season grade: D+

The Hornets were just not a very good team, nor were they expected to be, and they really struggled to shoot or score in general in 2020.  On the plus side, they showed more of a commitment to the defensive end, as they did a good job of keeping opponents off the free throw line, and they were 12th in points allowed this season.  The Hornets will need to continue to improve as a team, but as they have a quartet of promising young players in Graham, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, and P.J. Washington, and in adding the third overall pick, there’s hope that the Hornets could build positive momentum towards next season.

The Charlotte Hornets’ Projected 2020-21 NBA Rotation

Projected Starters:
The 3rd Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft
P.J. Washington
Miles Bridges
Terry Rozier
Devonte’ Graham

Key Reserves:
Cody Zeller
Bismack Biyombo* (UFA)
Nicolas Batum
Malik Monk

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
Dwayne Bacon* (RFA)
Jalen McDaniels
Caleb Martin
Cody Martin
Willy Hernangomez* (UFA)
The 32nd Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
Ray Spalding (Two-Way Contract)
Kobi Simmons (Two-Way Contract)
The 56th Overall Pick of the 2020 NBA Draft

Players that will be Restricted Free Agents:
Dwayne Bacon

Players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents:
Bismack Biyombo
Willy Hernangomez

Projected Players Cut from Next Season’s Roster:
Kobi Simmons

2020 NBA Draft Picks:
#3, #32, #56

Projected Offseason Plan for the Hornets:
The Charlotte Hornets are also a young team that have a quartet of solid, young players in Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, and Miles Bridges, and they had a surprisingly solid season from Graham this past season.  Unfortunately, the Hornets are not yet a good basketball team, and they will need to continue to add talented players to their team and core.  Most likely, they will probably target a center in the draft to complement their quartet of young players to draft a player such as James Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu, or Obi Toppin.  The Hornets also are said to have nearly $30 million in cap space, so they can spend it in whichever way they want, or they can opt to roll it over for next year.

Expected Win-Loss Record in 2021*: 26-46, 14th in the Eastern Conference

Expected 2021 Season Outcome: They will try to compete for the 7th or 8th seed in the East, but they will likely miss the playoffs in 2021.

(* – The asterisk denotes that the expected regular season win total is adjusted for the 72 game schedule that the NBA will play for the 2020-21 season.  The initial projection for the Hornets was for them to get 30 wins in an 82-game season.  Also, the projected record does not take into account for the NBA draft or free agency, as those events have not happened yet, so this is just a preliminary estimate for the time being.)

Side note: Also, the letter grades attached to the player name was my grade for their 2019-20 season, as it is my judgment of their performance and whether or not they met or exceeded my expectations, and didn’t have much bearing on my projection of how they will perform for the 2020-21 NBA season.

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