Charlotte Hornets
Steve Reed/Associated Press

The Charlotte Hornets are one of the more interesting teams going into the 2021 season. From big moves in the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency, the Hornets have quickly become a team many NBA fans will be paying attention to. But is the hype real, or will this be another down year for the Hornets? Let’s take a look and see.

Key Additions: LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward

In a year where the draft and free agency weren’t that exciting, the Hornets managed to make the most noise. LaMelo is a tall point guard that perhaps has the most boom potential of the players taken in the top 3. I personally like LaMelo’s game. His shooting needs to improve, but it’s his playmaking and IQ that will propel him this season. It will be interesting to see the fit of LaMelo with this team.

Hayward seemed to come out of left field. Even when it looked like Hayward was going to leave Boston, Charlotte was not a forerunner. Hayward was efficient in his limited role with Boston. But it is still an odd choice. However, the $30 million guaranteed over four years is probably the leading factor in the signing. However you feel about Hayward, it was definitely an intriguing signing.

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Key Losses: Nicolas Batum

The Chandler Parsons deal with Memphis may go down as the worst contract ever signed in NBA history. Batum with Charlotte is up there. Not only did the Hornets give Batum way too much, but they decided to cut him and will now have to eat $9 million in cap over the next four years. Given their cap situation overall, that does not help Charlotte try to bring in better talent. Or even keep some of their current talent for that matter. It’s not a significant loss because of the player, but because of the money.

Starting Lineup: LaMelo Ball, Devante’ Graham, Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, Cody Zeller

There is a small argument for Rozier starting over Graham. It would be nice to have Graham’s playmaking and scoring come in with the second unit, but he fits the two guard spot better than Rozier. It’s not the worst lineup by any means. I’m honestly interested and can’t wait to see this team play.

Season Outlook

I think 30 wins is a good over/under for this team. In a shortened season, and in the weaker East, getting over 30 wins means you are in the playoff hunt. I’m not ready to say this is a playoff team. There’s too many young guys on this squad to for sure make a playoff push. But again, they are in the East. Whatever happens this season, the Charlotte Hornets will be fun to watch.