2023 Charlotte Hornets Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert NBA Picks
The Charlotte Hornets had their season disrupted by a slew of injuries, but there is some quiet optimism in Charlotte that the franchise is headed in the right direction. LaMelo Ball looked phenomenal prior to his late season ankle injury, and it is clear the franchise is in good hands with the 21-year-old superstar. There are no real title aspirations for the franchise, but the season isn’t lost as a hungry group of young men have the potential to make waves in the NBA.
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The Hornets had a very quiet offseason, focusing on picking up assets in the draft rather than moving their young stars. In the first round, they were able to draft Brandon Miller second overall, before taking Nick Smith with the 27th pick. Miller is coming out of Alabama, and his 18.8 PPG with a serious threat from behind the arc will allow the Hornets to spread the floor and get their entire lineup involved. The 20-year-old has fantastic length but can still handle the ball like an NBA guard. His 38% clip from behind the arc will keep defenses honest, and his length and shooting abilities will make him a tough assignment for anyone in the league. His off-court issues surrounding the murder of Jamea Jonae Harris will certainly follow him throughout his rookie year, and he will hope to put that behind him as the season goes on.
The Hornets were also able to lock up LaMelo Ball for 5 years at $260 million dollars. So, while Miller will be thrust right into the starting lineup, Ball is still the face of the franchise for years to come.
The expectations in Charlotte are relatively low, as their 30.5-win total is the third lowest in the league, just edging out the Pistons (27.5) and Wizards (24.5). It is clear the Hornets still have another season of rebuilding, but a healthy lineup featuring Terry Rozier, Ball, and Miller is more than capable of defying expectations and squeaking into the play-in tournament. The Hornets finished 27-55 last season, but they had a solid end to the year, going 12-12 through the final 24 games after starting the year 15-43.
While the record will still matter to the Hornet’s front office, the development of their assets is unquestionably the top priority. Ball has already proven that he can compete at an All-Star caliber, and the 27-year-old Rozier has elite ball handling and shot creation, and put up career highs in points (21.1) and Assists (5.1) last season. If Miller can put his off-court issues behind him, the Hornets trio could quickly become one of the deadliest in the league.
The Hornets open up the season with 3 straight home games, which will be nice for Miller to get his toes in the water. Matchups against the Hawks, Pistons, and Nets may allow for the Hornets to get off to a hot start. A lengthy road trip over the holiday period that includes 6 games from December 26 until January 5 will drag on team morale, and it will be tough getting used to for the young guns on the team. In late March, the Hornets play 8 straight home games before a 3 game East Coast road trip to close out the season. The Hornets have several lengthy home stands and road trips, which will allow them to possibly build up some confidence if they can string wins together at home.
Charlotte Hornets Odds
The Hornets have a very low total of 30.5 wins this season and are a whopping +680 to advance to the postseason. It is understandable why the Hornets have such a low total, but I think the bookies are underestimating this team. The other bottom feeders in the East don’t have anywhere near the talent on Charlotte, and the team has a veteran leader in Rozier, and Ball, who’s been in the media since he was a pre-teen. They will not wilt under the lights, and there are some real possibilities they can secure a top 10 seed, and the play-in spot that goes with it.
Regarding the in-season tournament, the Hornets got dealt a tough hand, with the Bucks, Knicks, Heat, and Wizards joining them in Group B. One bright spot is that their home games are against the Bucks and Heat, while they visit the Knicks and Wizards, making a 4-0 run slightly more possible. Their +1400 odds to win the group, and +5000 odds to win the tournament certainly intrigue me, but it’s hard to imagine the Hornets getting the job done.
2023-24 Season Predictions
I expect these Hornets to shock the NBA and make the playoffs. They are a much more complete team than the other basement dwellers in the East, and odds of +135 for the Pacers and +170 for the Magic compared to the +680 for the Hornets don’t sit right with me. Ball and Rozier proved that when they are healthy on the court together, the Hornets can compete. They don’t need to do anything spectacular to achieve the 38ish wins likely needed for a play-in tournament position, and at +680 odds it’s really hard to say no. Once in the tournament, a hedging opportunity will certainly be present, and holding a plausible +680 ticket at the end of the season is an envious position to be in. I predict the Hornets finish 39-43, blowing their win total out of the water. Grabbing the Hornets to get 35+ wins at +210 odds is my other favorite wager for the year, as clutching onto a season long futures ticket with a little bit bigger payout compared to over 30.5 wins could pay dividends.
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