It’s the dawn of a new era for Michael Jordan and the revamped Charlotte Hornets. They’ve added some interesting young pieces, highlighted by new franchise player LaMelo Ball, and also signed Gordon Hayward to provide a much-needed veteran punch.
Given how the Eastern Conference has shaped out over the past decade or so, the Hornets have a shot at making the playoffs, even if it ends on a first-round exit. They have an intriguing young core that could pan out to be pretty good and prove their doubters wrong.
Then again, there will always be some doubts over the playoff-hopeful Charlotte Hornets until they prove that they can finally get over the hump after a never-ending rebuild. Today, we’ll break down their projected starting lineup for the 2020-21 season.
Bench: Grant Riller, Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, Keandre Cook, Xavier Sneed, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, Kahlil Whitney, Miles Bridges, Jalen McDaniels, Vernon Carey Jr., Bismack Biyombo, Nick Richards, Javin DeLaurier
Point Guard: LaMelo Ball
All eyes will be set on 3rd overall pick LaMelo Ball next season. Then again, he’s been used to being in the spotlight his entire life and knows how to perform under pressure. He’ll be on a mission to prove that he should have been picked 1st overall.
The sky seems to be the limit with LaMelo Ball. He’s got an incredible upside and could end up being the best player in his class. However, that would depend on whether he develops his basketball IQ, shot selection, and overall efficiency.
Shooting Guard: Devonte’ Graham
It wouldn’t be fair to start Terry Rozier over Devonte’ Graham after the latter had such an interesting season last year. Graham broke out as one of the league’s finest shooters and he should have been a frontrunner to win the Most Improved Player award.
Graham has improved his playmaking a lot and his presence will allow the Charlotte Hornets to have a dynamic and explosive backcourt. Both he and LaMelo can play off the ball or run the offense, and even though the defense would be a concern, they could outscore plenty of teams as well.
Small Forward: Gordon Hayward
In one of the most shocking moves we’ve seen in years, Gordon Hayward turned down $34 million and one year with the Boston Celtics to sign a multi-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s now betting on himself even though most people believe he was vastly overpaid.
But if the Hornets can have two-thirds of the player Hayward was during his days with the Utah Jazz, then they’ll definitely be up to something. He hasn’t been the same since that gruesome injury but he’ll now have the time and environment to slowly work his way back.
Power Forward: P.J Washington
PJ Washington is one of the most underrated young players in the league but he’ll get the start over Miles Bridges for a very good reason. While Bridges is more athletic and explosive, PJ Washington is by far more versatile and dynamic.
Washington’s ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc comes pretty handy for this team. Also, he’s got the size, length, and skills to play at both forward spots or even at center if needed, which is something not many players can provide.
Center: Cody Zeller
Even if he may not impress you with athleticism or flashy plays, Cody Zeller is one of the most hard-working and efficient guys you’ll find on a basketball court. He’s not exactly great at anything but he can do a little bit of everything and avoid mistakes.
Zeller is a solid offensive rebounder and thrives below the rim. He’s stronger than he seems and has vastly improved as a roll-man over the years. He may not be much of a rim protector but his length can alter some shots and he’ll put his body on the line on every single possession.