There are teams in the NBA that are on the upswing and there are teams in the NBA that are on the downswing. Looking at the Hornets, I am really not sure where they fit. They finished 36-46 last season, but that is a bit misleading as this team really underplayed their performance stats and would be expected to have a 42-40 record. That season cost Steve Clifford his job here and James Borrego will take over this team with a total of 35.5 wins.
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A youth movement seems very doable here. Malik Monk had a rough rookie season as he was never really unleashed. He got a bit of run over the last few weeks of the season and scored at least 16 points in his last six games. There are still questions here, but he can play in this league on offense. Long term, it’s questionable how him and Walker fit next to each other so it feels like somethings got to give here at some point.
Even if the fit isn’t perfect, Monk making a jump here is the key to this team to being a playoff team in 2019. This is a veteran based team with the addition of Tony Parker. Marvin Williams and Nicholas Batum are expected to get major minutes here. Those are two pretty up and down players with neither one being a strong second option to Walker. Michael-Kidd Gilchrist is one of the best defensive players in the league, but his offense has always brought the team down and I could see some of his minutes going to Monk this year.
This team is also well positioned to go young with third-year player Frank Kaminsky, Monk, Dwyane Bacon, Willy Hernagomez and this year’s draft picks: Miles Bridges, Devonte’ Graham and Arnoldas Kulboka. Graham is an interesting four-year college player that was drafted in the second round, he could contribute right away. While Bridges will need some seasoning, he looks like he could be a player in this league as he hustles on defense, has a diverse offensive game and can play multiple positions.
There are a lot of things to like in Charlotte, but nothing to love. This team is probably built for a 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, but I’m not sure that was what Mitch Kupchak was brought in to do. This line really hinges on whether or not Walker plays the whole season with this team. I personally think he’s going to be traded as there just doesn’t seem to be many rumblings out there about Charlotte wanting to keep him. I don’t know anything here, but it just seems like the future of this team is Monk and Bridges. For that reason, I’m going under. I don’t feel great about this one as I believe it will be close.
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