2018 Charlotte Hornets Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
What are the Charlotte Hornets? It is tougher to answer that question than most in all of sports. They aren't a bad team. But they aren't a good team. They aren't the least-talented team in the league. But they aren't the most-talented, either. They have some upside going forward. But it is far from impossible to imagine them going anywhere. They could be a playoff team. Or they could miss out. We don't know any of that. But what we do know is that none of it matters. If they did make the playoffs they would face one of the top four teams in the East - Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia and Milwaukee - in the first round, and that's going to go badly. In terms of the 2018-19 season, this is not a relevant team. The trick for them is to make sure that reality, which has been the case for a long time, isn't the case going forward.
One big guy to keep an eye on for this team this year is Kemba Walker. With multiple All-Star appearances he is definitely a star, and he is the best player on the team by a wide margin. But he is a free agent after this year. The front office needs to figure out first if they want to sign him and then if they can afford to and if he wants to be here. If he doesn't figure into the long-term future, then he probably won't finish the season here because he is certainly useful. If the team gets off to a rough early start, then this is a situation that could turn into a distraction. The team has the potential to have massive amount of cap space next summer, and Walker is at the center of that.
2018 Charlotte Hornets Additions and Departures
The biggest changes in this team - at least for the long term - came in their leadership. Mitch Kupchak, who never deserved to be fired by the Lakers, is now in charge of basketball operations. He accomplished far more in L.A. than the Hornets have ever dreamed of obviously, and he is still young enough that he probably has the energy for another good run in him. And Kupchak, in searching for a new coach, went to the Gregg Popovich coaching tree. Golden State, Milwaukee, Houston, Philadelphia and the Clippers all have head coaches who worked under or played for Pop, and it has worked out pretty well. And now the latest is James Borrego, who did two stints in San Antonio, with time in New Orleans and in Orlando, where he was also briefly the interim head coach, in between. He has the credentials to succeed and hopefully will get the players he can win with from Kupchak over the long term. It was a positive set of moves for this franchise.
I will admit to not being a huge fan of the big move the team made at the draft. They selected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Kentucky with their selection and then traded him to the Clippers for Miles Bridges and two second-round picks. Bridges probably fits in a position of greater need for the team, but the upside for Gilgeous-Alexander feels higher, and therefore the risk here feels somewhat significant. It's not a disastrous move by any means, though, as Bridges is athletic and he can score, so he isn't an anchor by any means. The team also sent two second-round picks to Atlanta for the draft rights to Devonte Graham, an early second-round pick who obviously isn't expected to change things significantly in the short term.
Tony Parker isn't the Tony Parker of his prime anymore, but he is wise and feisty, and he has a strong relationship with Berrego. Bringing him in as a backup to Walker is a massive upgrade from Michael Carter-Williams last year and gives the team options if they decide to move Walker. The team also moved on from Dwight Howard - which is what every team does sooner or later. They brought Timofey Mozgov back in that deal. Frankly, getting anything for Howard at this point is a bit of a miracle. The next day, Mozgov was gone again, heading to Orlando in a deal that brought Bismack Biyombo, one of the bigger free agent busts in recent history, to Charlotte. Charlotte also netted two second-round picks in that move, and they now have a whole lot of those on their hands to work with to remake this roster.
2018 Charlotte Hornets Futures Odds and Trends
-NBA title odds (from Bovada) : +30000
Eastern Conference title odds : +8000
Miles Bridges ROY Odds: +4000
Season win total: 35.5
The Hornets were 34-44-4 ATS on the season, which means there were solid profits to be found betting against them consistently. They went "over" the total 41 times and "under" 40, so there were no long-term profits be had on the total.
2018 Charlotte Hornets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
It is so, so hard to care about this team. They are not good or bad. They are not interesting. They are just a place filler. If pressed I would say that they would win about 34 games. But if it was 30 or 40 I wouldn't be even a little surprised. I find less reason to bet on them in a long-term way at this point than I do to care about them. I just hope Kupchak can make them better going forward.
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