For the better part of their existence, the Charlotte Hornets were simply known as the team that Michael Jordan owned. Not a lot has changed since entering the 2022-23 season. Even with a rising star in LaMelo Ball, Charlotte remains a fringe playoff contender.
The outright NBA betting lines are bearish on this team’s playoff odds. They also have their win total set at 36½, which is fewer than the 43 it set last season. Charlotte welcomes back Steve Clifford as head coach. He last led the Hornets to its most successful run: a 48-win season culminating in a seven-game first-round exit.
That seems like such a low standard for the Hornets. But Charlotte is desperate to “move the needle” as this team has been embarrassed in the play-in tournament for two straight years. Clifford will try to squeeze every ounce of effort from his team. But will he mesh with his young stars?
Let’s check the latest NBA picks, stats, injury reports, and NBA predictions. We’ve plenty of NBA expert picks for you to consider.
Charlotte Hornets Odds
- To win the NBA championship: +15000
- To win Eastern Conference: +6600
- To win Southeast Division: +1000
- To make playoffs: Yes +195/ No -250
Player to Watch
Ball enters his third year in the NBA. This tends to be the year when stars make the leap to superstardom. The Hornets want Ball to be “that guy” and even signed his brother, LiAngelo. The sportsbook is projecting the former Rookie of the Year to average 22+ points, 8+ assists, and 7+ rebounds. If he can blow past these stats, he’ll be on the shortlist to win Most Improved Player.
LaMelo Ball’s first bucket of the season was a smooth one 🤧pic.twitter.com/rk9o8EaQzB
— Hornets Nation (@HornetsNationCP) October 2, 2022
But on a more interesting note, we’re curious to see how Ball will do under Clifford. The coach is more defensive-minded than James Borrego. He will also prioritize a slower-paced game, with the centers playing a more significant role on offense.
If Ball and Clifford can get along, it can only benefit the youngster as he adds more stability to his occasionally erratic game.
- Player to Watch: G LaMelo Ball
Speaking of centers and success under Clifford, P.J. Washington could be poised for his own breakout season. The 24-year-old regressed in 2022 as he was relegated to the bench. But heading to the 2022-23 season, Washington has slimmed down and appears ready for a resurgence.
Washington could see an uptick in minutes and usage rate. When he does, expect him to do much better than his per-36-minute averages of 13.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. Al Jefferson made the All-NBA team in Clifford’s first year with Charlotte. Nikola Vucevic had his best seasons under him. Now, it’s time for Washington to flourish.
- Breakout Watch: F/C P.J. Washington
Going from Borrego to Clifford could force many Hornets to adjust. Under Borrego, the Hornets were a top-10 offense but a bottom-10 defense. Clifford is much more defensively inclined and offers a more “old school” approach. He also tends to favor veterans and older players, which could bode well for players like Mason Plumlee and Terry Rozier.
But overall, the Hornets are one of the youngest NBA teams. Fifteen of the 20 players on the roster have been in the league for just three years or fewer. If Clifford can earn the players’ trust and vice versa, Charlotte could surprise a few teams this season.
Charlotte was a profitable team to bet online in Clifford’s first season with the team in 2013-14: they went 33-25-1 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog. They had a 57.1 percent cover rate in total, the second-best mark that season. And optimistically, this team can contend for a playoff spot.