Sitting 8th in the East with a 10-12 record, the Charlotte Hornets start to the season has caught the eye of many.
The team is beginning to gel and new pieces acquired in the offseason are starting to bring some much-missed competitiveness back to Charlotte. Here’s my three takeaways from the season so far.
The team is beginning to grow up
The Hornets are young, there’s no question, and this has caused issues. The 2020 Hornets were naïve, often making errors taking them out of games before the half.
In 2021 the team has started to grow up with younger players such as 2019 first round selection PJ Washington making more of an impact in games from the start.
The team is also becoming closer, forward Miles Bridges said, “In huddles before, in the last few years, there was a lot of finger pointing, but this year we’re figuring out how to win the game than who to blame”.
This mentality has filtered from the starters all the way to the tenth man and performances are showing this.
Gordon Hayward is awesome
Hayward joined the Hornets from the Celtics in November, and what an addition he’s been.
Leading the team in scoring with 22.9 points per game and minutes played adding a new dimension to the offence.
Hayward is on pace to beat his best points per game average and having arguably his best season from the three. He has shined numerous times this season but none more so than Charlotte’s first regular season win against the Hawks, where he put up 44 in a dominant display. Whether he can carry this on through 2021 is yet to be seen, but he’s already a fans’ favourite.
LaMelo Ball looks like the real deal
Coach James Borrego has been starting to phase LaMelo Ball into games more in the last few weeks, and what we’re seeing is promising indeed.
The tag of third overall pick is a big one, but early signs show Ball is the real deal. Only recently becoming a starter after starting the season in the 6th man role, some of Ball’s performances have certainly caught the eye. His standout performance came against the Milwaukee Bucks where he recorded for 27 points with 100% from the free throw line. This performance helped him to the Eastern Conference rookie of the month for January. Elements of Balls game are still raw, with a little inconsistency from the field but by no means has he looked out of depth in the NBA.
With a lot of Basketball still to be played, whether the Hornets can sneak into the postseason is yet to be seen. There’s no doubt however that if the team continues to build, Spectrum Centre could see playoff action in the not-to-distant future.