The Charlotte Hornets seemed to be projected up a couple of seasons ago. They were the darlings of the NBA. After drafting LaMelo Ball, they had a likable star who shared the ball and just missed the playoffs through the play-in game. Last year, they finished in the same position, but the mood had dampened after not making any progress on a solid opening.
The Charlotte Hornets look like they could be heading for a similar situation to what has happened to Leicester City F.C. in the Premier League. But how have they gotten here?
Not as good as last year
Leicester City F.C. were on the ascendancy, similarly to the Hornets. They threatened to break into the top four two seasons ago but missed out on the final day. Likewise, they failed to build on their young core last year and dropped down the table. Heading into this season, football betting tips would have suggested they had the potential to finish in the top six. Now, they are the third favorite to get relegated at +188. Similarly, the Charlotte Hornets are -400 not to make this season’s NBA playoffs.
But what has happened? The front office has failed to put a decent squad around LaMelo Ball, going with older players like Gordan Hayward and Mason Plumlee. Also, giving contracts to Terry Rozier and Kelly Oubre Jr. may not have been the most innovative business. They are decent players, but not up to the standard of a second star like Ball needs by his side.
It must be said the Hornets players have had a number of off-court issues, which will hamper their team next season. However, owner Michael Jordan doesn’t have a proven track record of being able to surround stars he has drafted with other talented players.
Next year’s NBA draft is stacked
One advantage of being in the NBA over the Premier League is what happens when you finish at the bottom. If Leicester continues its disastrous season and finishes in the bottom three, they will be relegated to the EFL Championship. It would be a significant blow to a club that won the Premier League as recently as 2016.
However, the Hornets could not have hand-picked a better season to be a terrible NBA team. As we all know, the teams who finish the season with the worst three records in the NBA have a 14.00% of winning the draft lottery. This year is especially enticing as the top prospect is touted as being the best thing since LeBron James. If I was the Hornets, I’d like to have the next big thing on my squad.
LaMelo Ball needs help
This leads us to LaMelo Ball and his need for talent around him. The player is still young enough that a bad season could help him in the long run. If his team tanks this season, he may lose a lot of games and not get any playoff reps. But it could lead to a potentially high draft pick which could be the best way of getting a second star on the roster. It may hurt in the short term, but it’s the best way for Ball to find success in the league.
The Hornets are in for a turbulent NBA season. As a franchise, they haven’t enjoyed much success in the past few seasons. Nevertheless, one bad year could be followed by a team-altering draft pick, which could finally change their stature in the league.