Christmas has arrived and currently the Charlotte Hornets are 16-17, amid another West Coast road swing. Charlotte has had many ebbs and flows early on. The Hornets started the season 5-2, then went out West and lost five in a row. The Hornets then won eight out of its next nine games, including an impressive win over the current favorites to win the NBA title, the Golden State Warriors. Charlotte then suffered a covid outbreak and other illnesses that spread among the team, causing as many as seven players to miss a game. Since then guys are trying to find a rhythm as the season marches on.
Charlotte has played 21 of their 33 games on the road and have had one of the hardest schedules in the NBA early in the season. As Christmas nears, here are some things the Hornets need on their wish list if they want to reach their goal of getting past the play-in tournament and enter the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Charlotte currently sits dead last in the NBA in defensive rating and last in points per game allowed, which is unfortunate because the Hornets’ offense is currently 2nd in offensive rating and points per game. In their last six games alone, Charlotte has given up 123, 120,115,125, 137, and 112 points. Against Portland, Charlotte gave up 81 points in a half. No matter how well you play offense, if you can’t stop teams you’ll just be hovering around .500 – which the Hornets currently sit at. When Charlotte won eight out of nine games they showed improvements in defensive rating, going from last to 21st. While that isn’t great, it was enough for Charlotte to string together a nice stretch of wins. The Hornets have no interior presence and they don’t stop dribble drives to the basket. The effort on the defensive end must increase if Charlotte wants to be a serious playoff team.
Charlotte has no interior presence and is often overmatched in the paint. Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis and Jarrett Allen have all eaten against the Hornets and last night Rudy Gobert went for 23 points and 21 rebounds. Pretty much every good big man has had their way with Charlotte this season. Myles Turner and Sabonis are two guys who are rumored to be available on the trade market and Charlotte should investigate to see what type of offer the Pacers want for one of those players. Myles Turner would especially be a good fit with this team, averaging nearly three blocked shots a game.
Charlotte was absolutely depleted with health and safety protocols during the last several weeks. Now with the roster back nearly full again, Charlotte will have to find the chemistry it had before the Covid outbreak slowed down their momentum. Staying healthy will be important throughout the rest of the season.
An Easier Schedule:
Charlotte has had a schedule that has been heavily tilted towards road games early this season. Once the calendar shifts to 2022 that will change as the Hornets won’t have to travel further than Minnesota and Oklahoma City. Charlotte has played well at home and will have plenty of games at the Spectrum Center to help make a strong push towards the postseason.
A Playoff Berth:
Charlotte hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016. With LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges’ rise to stardom, the fanbase is excited and behind the team. It is time for Charlotte to reward their fans with a postseason berth.