Hornets season preview

Rhys Patterson, Sports Editor

Everyone’s favorite local NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets, got their season underway this past Wednesday with a dominant win of 129-102 over the San Antonio Spurs. They then split their next two games and are currently 2-1. This marks back-to-back years for the Hornets in winning their season opener and is sure to spell great things for this team throughout the rest of the year. 

After letting former head coach James Borrego go in the offseason, the Hornets were quick to make a new hire in Steve Clifford. Clifford was tenured with the Hornets for five seasons from 2013-2018 and led the team to playoffs twice in that span. Making the playoffs hasn’t been a huge issue for the Hornets, but advancing out of the first round, or the recently added “play in” games has. The team is hoping that the hiring of a veteran coach in Clifford will be enough to get them over the hump. 

This team won’t be without star power this year as the Hornets are returning potentially four of their five top scorers from last season Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr., LaMelo Ball, and Terry Rozier. They are still waiting on a potential return from Miles Bridges who is waiting on a hearing for a domestic violence case. 

Although Ball missed the Hornet’s season opener with an ankle injury, he will be expected to have a very good third season, further proving that he is a rising star in the NBA. Ball’s first season in the league ended early with an injury, but his sophomore year saw him average 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. These numbers will be sure to increase even more this year as he gets used to the grind of an NBA season. 

The Hornets play in the Southeast Division with the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, and Atlanta Hawks. They finished third in the division last season with a respectable record of 43-39 before losing in the “play-in” to the Atlanta Hawks. A few reasonable goals for the Hornets this season include once again finishing with a record above .500 and top three in the division. Obviously making the playoffs is a goal for any team at the beginning of a season and for the Hornets making the playoffs would be great and all, but they really need to set themselves up for success in the postseason. 

After finishing tenth in the Eastern Conference standings last season, the Hornets were forced to play in a winner take all “play-in” game against the Hawks which they lost. The Hornets will want to finish in the top eight of the Eastern Conference so they avoid a one-game elimination format in the playoffs. This should be a reasonable goal with the talent and experience they have on their roster. 

While the Hornets may not have one of the best overall teams on paper in the NBA, they will still be sure to compete hard and give the loyal fans in the Spectrum Center a good show this season.