The Charlotte Hornets have been in the NBA since 2002, but they never got it right. The team has been through a lot of losing seasons, but it seems like the franchise is finally ready to make a move. The Hornets are entering a new era, and there are lots of things to look forward to for the next few years. The franchise is in the process of being sold, which will help it grow in a very big way.
Despite the NBA’s 30 teams, if you wanted to bet on a team to win the next NBA title, you could certainly make the case for Charlotte. The franchise has never won a championship, but they’ve been associated with the league’s elite teams. Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets were Western Conference champions on three occasions in the early 1990s, led by players like Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, and Alonzo “Jellybean” Johnson.
After two years of failing to make the postseason, the Charlotte Hornets are hoping that their rebuild might finally be coming to an end. With a young core of players entering their prime and the addition of a versatile outside shooting threat in Miles Bridges, the team has the potential to do damage in the East. That said, the Hornets still have a ways to go before looking like a true competitor in the conference, and may not be ready to contend until the 2021-22 season.
The Charlotte Hornets technically qualified for the playoffs last season. They finished 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 33-39 record, earning a spot in the league’s new play-in tournament. They went home after losing to the ninth-seeded Indiana Pacers.
Regardless, it was a thrilling season for a fan base that had been waiting for signs of life for a long time.
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer, as the Hornets are one of the top picks in the NBA Draft in 2021. Charlotte selected its own player at No. 11 and then moved back into the first round to choose two young players that fit the franchise’s timetable and will fit in well with the Hornets’ youthful core.
The Hornets of Charlotte made two of the top picks in the NBA Draft of 2021.
Charlotte was the 11th overall selection in the first round on draft night. The Hornets remained put in that position and chose James Bouknight of the University of Connecticut, who was rapidly rising up the boards. NBA.com rated Bouknight as a possible No. 6 pick the night before the draft.
Bouknight enters the league as a pure scorer, having averaged 19 points per game at UConn previous season. He possesses a huge bag of tricks to finish around the basket and can blast past opponents with an explosive first step. He has to improve his jump shot consistency and can be a black hole with the ball at times, but at 20 years old, he has advanced talent to put the ball in the basket.
After trading a future first-round selection to the New York Knicks, Charlotte was able to return to the first round and choose Kai Jones of Texas at No. 19. Jones was raised in the Bahamas and didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 15, thus the word “potential” is often used to him. But, at 6-foot-10, he’s an outstanding athlete who moves smoothly, giving him the potential to be a great defender in a variety of positions. He only scored 8.8 points per game for the Longhorns last season, but his jump jumper is fluid, and he has a potential to be a future great.
Jones’ greatest talents, for the time being, are shot-blocking and rim running, both of which will come in useful in Charlotte.
James Bouknight and Kai Jones are ideal additions to the Hornets’ current lineup.
The Charlotte Hornets’ LaMelo Ball takes a shot against the Indiana Pacers | Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
LaMelo Ball, last year’s Rookie of the Year and franchise cornerstone, is clearly at the center of Charlotte’s plans. The smooth, selfless playmaker routinely fills stat sheets and makes highlight-reel plays. Last season, he had more over 6 assists per game, and with the signings of Bouknight and Jones, that number should only rise.
Terry Rozier, a decent player but not a great scorer, was the Hornets’ leading scorer last season. Gordon Hayward was also signed as a free agency by Charlotte, although Hayward has always been more of a facilitator than a real scorer. Bouknight could provide a scoring boost to a club that was 22nd in the league in offensive rating last season. Using his agility in pick-and-rolls as Ball lobs him passes above the rim, Jones could average double digits.
The Hornets’ draft choices have ideally positioned them for a playoff push in 2022.
My essay on the Charlotte Hornets’ fantastic night, with Bouknight and Jones scoring 11 and 19 points, respectively, and the team now having a strong opportunity to break a 5-year playoff drought next season. https://t.co/0uJDf6Lg0c
30 July 2021 — Scott Fowler (@scott fowler)
According to RealGM, Charlotte hasn’t won a playoff series since the 2001-02 season.
Bouknight falling to Charlotte’s No. 11 selection and the front office’s decision to trade a future first-round choice for Jones, who might have been the No. 11 pick regardless, was a perfect situation for the club. Adding two high-potential players who match the team’s current direction and will complement Ball — who has already had Michael Jordan’s blessing after one season — should place the Hornets firmly in the postseason conversation next season.
Charlotte may be able to win something else after winning the draft, such as its first playoff series in two decades.
Basketball-Reference.com provided the statistics.
NBA Draft 2021: The Winners and Losers
The Charlotte Hornets have been in a slump for a while now. Last year, the team was out of the playoff race by mid-December, and by the start of the next season, they were one of the worst teams in the NBA, finishing with a record of 24-58. Things looked to be getting better this year, as they finished the season in the bottom half of the league, but they were still in a tight race for last place. However, they ended up winning the draft lottery and getting the number one pick in the NBA draft, which allowed them to select Zion Williamson.. Read more about nba playoffs 2021 and let us know what you think.
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