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Charlotte Hornets End-Of-Season Recap

Charlotte Hornets

After a dismal 2022-23 campaign, the Charlotte Hornets End-of-Season Recap will be one that looks to build a positive future. 

There certainly was some hope for the Hornets that they could roll into the post-season after a Play-in Tournament exit last season. Not only that, but the team brought back Steve Clifford for his second stint as head coach. Add in a young and intriguing back court with LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, and there’s hype aplenty for Buzz City, right? Wrong.

First, trouble struck small forward Miles Bridges when he was hit with domestic violence felony charges over the summer. That brought along a difficult transition out of the off-season. As a young team, the Hornets never completely rebounded from the bad news. So why is 2022-23 one season that wants to be behind Hornets fans so quickly? Let’s take a deeper dive into the details.

Charlotte Hornets End-Of-Season Recap: Pre-season Expectations

After a play-in tournament appearance, hopes were that Charlotte could find its way back to the postseason again in 2022-23. With a young team in tow, there’s some hype that would surround the fan base. Unfortunately, for Charlotte, the hype would not be met, as the team struggled to the tune of 6-15 in their first 21 contests. December would bring along a lengthy losing streak, which would continue to sink the positive hype.

The buzz-word would be disappointment. Consequently, Charlotte would place at the bottom of the Southeast Division with a dismal 27-55 record. The team just could never find the spark that followed them in 2021-22. Of course, not having a star forward in Bridges certainly doesn’t help the cause. Erik Livengood has further details on the downward spiral in the early season struggles.

Offense Grades:

Oh dear, this is numbers that will not make a fan base happy. Charlotte put together the fourth-worst offense in the league in the 2022-23 campaign. The Hornets only scored 111 points per game, while also finishing in the bottom half of the Association in assists at 25.1 per game (good for 17th). The backcourt of Ball and Rozier led the scoring flow, with Kelly Oubre Jr. posting a healthy 20.3 points per contest in his second season in Charlotte.

But one area where the team mightily struggled was the three-point game. The Hive came second-to-last in beyond-the-arc shooting at just 33%. In today’s game, the three is a vital element to any offense. If teams aren’t able to stretch the floor, they will have a hard time winning games. But there is another missing piece. A viable paint presence was lacking in the latter half of the season.

After the Hornets shipped away Mason Plumlee to the Clippers, they would not receive much post help from P.J. Washington or Nick Richards. Gordon Hayward also statistically had a down year, thus affecting the team’s confidence. Overall, there was just no notable cohesion or success for the Charlotte offense in 2022-23.

Final Offense Grade – D

Charlotte Hornets End-of-Season Recap: Defense Grades

What the offense lacked during the season, the defense didn’t fare much better. The Hornets finished 22nd out of 30 teams in the 2022-23 season allowing just over 117 points per game. They also posted a 115.3 defense rating, good for 20th. However, they were in the top half of the league (14th overall) in opponent turnover percentage at 12.5. After Plumlee was traded, one noticeable stat is the lack of rebounding. Sure, while they were top 10 in total rebounds, the Hornets gave up the second-most rebounds in the NBA this season. That says something about lacking a post presence.

Save for Ball, Plumlee, and rookie Mark Williams, a majority of Charlotte’s roster finished with an overall minus rating. One positive statistic was that Charlotte forced almost 1200 turnovers and a +13 turnover margin. But without a true paint presence, the Hornets are looking at some down times on defense.

Final Defense Grade – D+

Final Thoughts on the End of the Season

The final overall grade the Hornets receive will be a D+. Now, given that they were dealt a tough hand to begin with, it’s expected that there would be some struggles. But once LaMelo went down in February with a fractured right ankle, the ship really began to sink after that. A projected hope of a potential Play-in berth went by the wayside, and the team ultimately ended up tanking their season. Rozier certainly showed positive signs of being a lead guard, and Williams did take a step forward after the Plumlee trade.

But Washington and Richards led a struggling supporting cast that didn’t receive a whole lot of help from the bench. Versatility is also a key factor in today’s NBA. The next man up mentality is an oft-discussed topic, and Charlotte didn’t get much help from their reserves throughout the campaign.

The good news for Hornets fans is that they will have the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, and Bridges will be returning from his suspension some point in early to mid November. One need to fill in the upcoming off-season is finding a serious paint presence to partner with Richards and Williams. Charlotte could also use a scoring wing or small forward that can help ease the load off of Ball and Rozier.

When healthy and fully together, the Charlotte Hornets can be a spunky team that could play spoiler to some serious playoff contenders. Whether that will be true in the 2023-24 season remains to be seen. But the Hornets will need to retool if they want to lead Buzz City back to its first playoff appearance since 2016.

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