If you’re sufficiently cynical about Kemba Walker‘s role in the Charlotte Hornets grossly underachieving over the past three seasons since making the playoffs as the 6 seed in the East back in 2015-16, you might look at his departure to Boston at three times the price as “better them than us, now we can get a guy who can actually deliver in crunch time.”
But with Walker gone, they needed to field a worthwhile team to move forward. And…
And then they put the cherry on the poop sundae by throwing big money at Terry Rozier, a guy who came up big in the 2018 playoffs and at no other time in his career and who Celtics fans were more than happy to see shoved out the door when he started demanding star money in his contract.
What you’re left with is a Hornets team that might not be able to win the G-League.
Vegas noticed; the Hornets have the lowest over/under in the NBA (tied with Cleveland) at 24 wins.
Will they even be that good? Or will they be more like the 7-59 2012 Bobcats, challenging the 1973 Sixers for the worst 82-game record of all-time to go with that worst-overall winning percentage they barfed out in a lockout season?
2018-19 record: 39-43
2019-20 over/under: 24
Scary Terry? I’ll Say!
How bad was Rozier last year? He shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range, which seems decent if unspectacular…
…but he shot just 42.2 percent on two-point shots, for a putrid .387 field goal percentage and .477 eFG%.
His WS/48 dipped below the Starter’s Mendoza Line to .086, and he went from 2.0 VORP in 2017-18 to 0.6 last season.
In other words, that outburst in the playoffs looks like what it most likely was; an outlier for a crummy player who is now making almost $19 million a year over the next three.
This…is a dumb contract. A spectacularly dumb contract.
Send the Monk to the Monastery
To call Malik Monk a garbage player is an insult to garbage.
A 38.7 percent shooting mark, 33.0 percent long-range “accuracy”, and a gods-awful .012 WS/48 and minus-0.6 VORP are bad enough. At least his eFG% was better (.480) than Rozier, but what does that say about Scary Terry?
The end result is a backcourt of raw sewage that oh by the way also can’t guard anyone.
They went from Walker and Lamb to…this.
The Old Guard is Old and Can’t Guard
If your “veteran presence” is Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, and the seemingly ageless should’ve-drafted-Chris Paul that has been Marvin Williams‘ NBA career (to be fair, it was Atlanta that screwed up, and Paul went fourth to New Orleans one spot before the Bobcats would’ve had a chance to pick him; they took Raymond Felton in 2005.)
At least Williams has been a half-decent NBA player since joining Charlotte in 2014 (8.7 of his 13.0 career VORP have come in the past five seasons of a 14-year career.)
But none of the guys mentioned would be starters on any NBA team with serious playoff aspirations. And combined with a putrescent backcourt, that frontcourt presence, along with the perpetually-injured Cody Zeller, isn’t going to do a thing other than maybe get a bunch of offensive rebounds.
And I’m Not Sold on the Coach
James Borrego came off the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, and he went 10-20 as the interim coach in Orlando in 2015 (which was at least better than the team’s 25-57 overall record that year) and 39-43 last year. Not a promising start.
The Hornets were 12th in Offensive Rating last season and 22nd in Defensive Rating, and that was with Walker and Lamb on the team.
This year, it’s hard to see them scoring any points at all, although there are some silver linings. Last year’s Hornets had the lowest turnover percentage on offense and the third lowest free throw rate given up on defense.
That means they play fundamentally sound basketball…which is probably for the best since they don’t have a lick of talent.
But if you were hoping for imagination…sorry, it ain’t here.
All of the above adds up to a horrifying reality for the Hornets in 2019-20.
They’re going to play “fundamentally sound” boring basketball with players who stink. It won’t be fun, it won’t inspire hope, it’ll just be soul-crushing loss after soul-crushing loss on the way to a 20-62 record, the sole saving grace being the dream of winning the draft lottery after the season.
It’s going to be a mess. This might be the most talent-poor team in the entire league. There is nothing, at all, to build around.
Are they good? Busted. Completely busted. Taking the under on even a bar as low as 24, this is going to be a terrible year.
NEXT: Miami Heat.