Charlotte Hornets Last Season Performance
The Charlotte Hornets had a decent enough season in 2021-22, finishing with a 43-39 record and earning a play-in spot. It was only the third time the Hornets finished above .500 over the last 12 seasons. Not bad for a team whose lone All-Star was 20-year-old LaMelo Ball and who got a breakout season from 23-year-old Miles Bridges.
With vets Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward under contract and still producing, Charlotte seemed like a team that was going in the right direction, building around young talent while supplementing it with useful veterans.
LaMelo Ball’s All-Star appearance and Miles Bridges’ continued rise certainly qualify as great moments. However, Isaiah Thomas’ arrival in Charlotte was an unexpected development that turned out well for both parties. Thomas’ story is well documented, as the former MVP candidate has spent time playing on 10-day contracts and has played in the G League.
Thomas found a home as the veteran presence on a young Hornets team, helping Charlotte to a 13-6 finish to the regular season after his signing. In the 13 games prior to his arrival, the Hornets were just 2-11 and appeared on the verge of collapse.
Also, PJ Washington had to adjust to a new role last season. After starting 118 of his first 122 games as a pro, he was moved to the bench to make room for the emergent Miles Bridges. There was an adjustment period, but ultimately found success in the role and he played himself onto the floor for close to his normal allotment of minutes.
Washington’s biggest strength was his versatility and ability to play both the four and the five. For the second consecutive season, the Hornets outscored their opponents by a significant margin with Washington at the five, even if it wasn’t always pretty.
The Hornets had several noteworthy victories this season as they took down such contenders as the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers. The win over the Warriors stands out, as a sold-out crowd that included the Hornets taking down Charlotte native Stephen Curry and the visiting Warriors.
Unfortunately, defense is what held this team back from moving to another level. Nobody on the roster looked good enough to be effective defensively, so help from the outside is something that the Hornets might need if they want to improve in this area.
Charlotte Hornets Off-Season Changes
To say the Hornets had a rough offseason would be a resounding understatement. They fired head coach James Borrego after what felt like a successful stint in Charlotte. Off the Gregg Popovic coaching tree, Borrego had his best season at the helm in 2021-22. Alas, Borrego was let go.
The team’s coaching search was a mess. There was plenty of smoke around the team hiring former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. Instead, the team agreed to terms with Kenny Atkinson, the former Nets head coach that served as an assistant for the champion Golden State Warriors. Atkinson then pulled out of the deal, electing to stay by the Bay.
The team circled back to D’Antoni, who I’m sure felt great about being the team’s second choice. Ultimately, Michael Jordan and company made the oddest of moves and brought back Steve Clifford, the team’s head coach from 2013-2018.
Charlotte Hornets Key Additions
As far as transactions, Charlotte was relatively quiet. The Hornets did re-sign Cody Martin, who solidified himself as a solid rotational piece last season. Other than that, they made no signings or trades. A disappointing development for a team that has clear aspirations of advancing beyond the play-in and has Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier amongst its highest-paid players.
Charlotte did decently in the draft. They went with picks 13, 15 and 45. They wound up trading pick 13 for a bunch of future picks, took talented Duke big man Mark Williams at 15, and traded up for an intriguing one-and-done guard in Nebraska’s Bryce McGowens at 40.
Charlotte Hornets Key Subtractions
The only player Charlotte will be missing is Montrezl Harrel. The veteran big man dealt with legal issues in Kentucky and entered NBA free agency after wrapping up his 2021-2022 season with the Charlotte Hornets.
Charlotte Hornets Head Coach Analysis
Steve Clifford is back in familiar surroundings as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. Clifford was introduced as the Hornet’s head coach for the 2022-23 season, a little more than four years after general manager Mitch Kupchak fired him from that same position.
Clifford said the 2017-18 campaign in Charlotte, his last before now, was the low point in his nine seasons as a head coach. And the culprit wasn’t even the 21 games he missed because of sleep deprivation, or the basic fact that he was fired after going 36-46 and missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.
Clifford inherits a Hornets team that was 43-39 last season and one he believes is more talented than any he’s had in his eight seasons as an NBA coach, including the 2015-16 team that finished 48-34 before losing in seven games to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Previously, Clifford’s strength has been coaching defense (the Hornets finished in the top 12 in defense in his previous five seasons). Now, led by All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, the Hornets want to push the ball up the court and play fast, and Clifford plans to let Ball and company continue to do just that.
In the rugged Eastern Conference, where there is a depth of talent and competitive teams not seen on this side of the bracket in decades, outside prognosticators are not expecting much from the Hornets. Clifford, meanwhile, put off setting any team goals early on in the season, so he and his players could get a sense of who they are and what they should realistically reach for.
This is Clifford’s 23rd season on an NBA bench, counting the 13 he spent as an assistant, and excluding the year he served as counsel to Nash, and to Nets general manager Sean Marks, during a trying season in Brooklyn in which championship hopes were crushed by injuries, a disgruntled star, and another star who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccination, costing him most of the season.
Clifford is working to get to know his players and, like any coach should find the angle for each of them to improve. It’s safe to say that Clifford has been around too long, and seen too much, putting him in a comfortable position heading into the season.
Charlotte Hornets Betting Prediction for the 2022-23 Season
The Sportsbook has the Hornets at +20000 odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship and at +10000 to win the Eastern Conference. With so many teams improving in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets could be in trouble this year. Perhaps moving players like Hayward, Rozier, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Mason Plumlee could give them future cap relief while accumulating assets and freeing up minutes for younger players. Or they can stand pat, like they did this summer, and have to fight tooth and nail for the ninth or 10th seed.
Outside of that, there are way more questions than answers. How will Clifford fare in his second go around? Will the team lean more into a soft rebuild around Ball or stay in play-in purgatory? The Bridges situation will likely be hanging over the organization for quite some time unless they proactively decide to move on.
Charlotte Hornets Team Leaders
Charlotte Hornets Team Ranked Stats
Charlotte Hornets Team Summary
Charlotte Hornets Team Injuries
Charlotte Hornets Team Schedule/Results
Charlotte Hornets Team Standings
Charlotte Hornets Team Roster
Charlotte Hornets FAQs
When was the last time the Charlotte Hornets made the playoffs?
The Charlotte Hornets last made the playoffs in 2016, when they lost the Eastern Conference First Round. They’ve been in the playoffs a total of 10 times in their 33 seasons.
Do the Charlotte Hornets have a chance of winning the Eastern Conference title?
The Eastern Conference is also the strongest it has been since the mid to late 1980s. The Celtics, Bucks, Heat, Cavaliers, and 76ers are legitimate championship contenders, while the Nets, Raptors, Bulls, and Hawks are formidable hurdles. That is nine teams right there considerably better than Charlotte, which means the Hornets would be fighting off the Knicks and Wizards for the final play-in spot.
Have the Charlotte Hornets won an NBA championship?
The Charlotte Hornets have never won a NBA Finals. The closest they came to winning a championship was in 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2002 when they lost the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Why Are the Charlotte Hornets part of the NBA?
In 1988, the Hornets were part of the 1988 NBA Expansion Draft alongside the Miami Heat.