Charlotte Hornets: Steps to Improvement

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The Charlotte Hornets were ousted by the Atlanta Hawks in the ninth vs tenth seeded matchup in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. Although Charlotte made it to the play-in, they were never considered true contenders.

This team is young, plays with fire, and has a stellar offense. LaMelo Ball looks like a star in the making as well, especially after notching his first All-Star appearance this season. There’s work to be done to improve and become a perennial playoff contender, however.

Charlotte Hornets: Steps to Improvement

1. Retain Key Pieces

First and foremost, the Hornets must hold onto Miles Bridges. He exploded onto the scene this season and enters this summer as a restricted free agent. The good news for Charlotte is that they’ll be able to match any offer that comes Bridges’ way.

This season, Bridges averaged about 20 points, seven boards, four assists, and a block and a steal per game. These are fantastic numbers, and he looked more and more like Charlotte’s second option behind Ball. He just turned 24-years-old last month, so Bridges will only continue to improve. Retaining him is Charlotte’s key priority this offseason.

Another free agent is Montrezl Harrell. He averaged about 13 points and six boards per game. Harrell is not absolutely key, but a great piece to have. With this being said, Charlotte cannot make him their full-time starting center. He should be retained if the price is right.

Jalen McDaniels can return on his team option. Cody Martin, also a restricted free agent, is a solid bench option and should also be considered at the right price.

2. Hit Big in the Draft

The Hornets will have a lottery pick. This pick is likely to be the 14th pick, but perhaps they can have some luck and move up a couple of spots. All that said, Charlotte’s recent rookie class did not produce and a lottery pick can quickly become a rotational piece.

Charlotte can target a big such as Jalen Duren or Mark Williams. They can go for a wing such as Ochai Agbaji or Bennedict Mathurin. They can also target a backup guard like TyTy Washington.

The options will be plentiful. Charlotte, however, cannot allow their pick to sit on the bench all season such as James Bouknight.

3. The Charlotte Hornets Need to Find a Top Big Man

The Hornets’ most obvious hole is at the five. Mason Plumlee is not the ideal starter, whereas Harrell is undersized. A proper center can further elevate the offense but also shore up the defense.

There will be elite free-agent options such as Deandre Ayton, and other solid ones like Jusuf Nurkic, Mo Bamba, or Mitchell Robinson.

Charlotte, however, holds the pieces for a major trade. They have a large contract in Gordon Hayward. They have tradeable young pieces like Bouknight and PJ Washington. If a team covets Charlotte’s lottery pick, they can include that in a trade as well.

Two top centers that may be available include Rudy Gobert and Myles Turner. Gobert can completely revolutionize this team’s defense, whereas Turner is also a great defender with a polished offensive game.

The Hornets can’t whiff on this. Failing to upgrade the center position will likely have them hovering around play-in territory next season as well.

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