Charlotte Hornets 2022-23 NBA preview: LaMelo Ball needs to take another step this season

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Having lost in tournament play-ins in each of the last two seasons, the Charlotte Hornets have decided to shake things up a bit this offseason. The team left head coach James Borrego after four years and replaced him with familiar face Steve Clifford, who previously coached the team from 2013 to 2018. The Hornets have made the playoffs twice under Clifford, and they hope to add to that number in the future as the team hasn’t qualified in the postseason since 2016.

Making the playoffs in the competitive Eastern Conference won’t be easy, but third-year quarterback LaMelo Ball gives the organization serious cause for optimism. After winning Rookie of the Year in 2021, Ball made his First All-Star Team last season and became one of five NBA players to average over 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game. If the Hornets are going to make a splash this season, they’ll need Ball to take it one step further.

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You can’t properly discuss Charlotte’s prospects without mentioning the uncertainty surrounding Miles Bridges’ future with the franchise. Bridges is currently awaiting trial after he was charged with three counts of domestic violence. Bridges pleaded not guilty to the accusations. He was the Hornets’ top scorer last season, averaging 20.2 points and 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

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Here’s a recap of Charlotte’s offseason and a preview of what things will look like when the 2022-23 season ends.

Key changes

  • Replaced James Borrego with Steve Clifford as head coach.
  • Selected Duke forward Mark Williams, the 15th pick in the draft.
  • Lost Montrezl Harrell at large, signed with Dennis Smith Jr.

Compound

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Player

Job title

Age

Lamelo Ball

watch over

21

LeeAngelo Ball

watch over

23

James Bucknight

watch over

22

Miles Bridges

Forward

24

Jalen Crutcher

watch over

23

Anthony Duruji

Forward

24

Gordon Hayward

Forward

32

Kai Jones

Forward

21

Scotty Lewis

watch over

22

Cody Martin

Forward

27

Jalen McDaniels

Forward

24

Bryce McGowans

watch over

19

Kelly Obre Jr.

watch over

26

Mason Plumlee

Center

32

Nick Richards

Center

24

Terry Rozier

watch over

28

Dennis Smith Jr.

watch over

24

JT Thor

Forward

twenty

PJ Washington

Forward

24

Mark Williams

Center

twenty

Top of the key: ball control

As good as he was last season, LaMelo Ball still has plenty of room to grow when it comes to play, which is to be expected as he is only 21 years old. He can definitely improve defensively where he is prone to gambling and getting out of position, and in turn allows penetration. Given his size and athleticism, Ball has what it takes to be a solid defender, he just needs to buckle up and work more on that side of the ball.

Ball’s punch selection can also be improved, as he tends to make rash attempts. While he shot a respectable 38 percent from long range last season, he only made 46 percent of his two-point attempts, which was below the league average. Finally, Ball could have taken better care of the ball. Last season, he was 10th in the NBA with 3.3 turnovers per game.

Next: focus on young guys

Ball is obviously not the only player on Charlotte’s roster with room to grow. The Hornets are also looking to develop other young players such as James Bucknight, PJ Washington and Jayden McDaniels. All three of these players are under 24, and all of them could see an increased role in the upcoming campaign. They have all shown potential in the past and they will need to take advantage of all the court opportunities that are available to them.

It will also be interesting to see how much playing time rookie big man Mark Williams gets after being drafted in the first round by the Hornets. Last season, he averaged 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for Duke. Williams was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year, which is predicted to make him a good choice for Charlotte as the Hornets certainly need some help in that regard. Last year they were in 22nd place in the defensive rankings.

And more: Hayward’s health

The Hornets really need Gordon Hayward to stay healthy this season, especially given the uncertainty about Miles Bridges’ future on the team. If Bridges is gone, Hayward will have to take on a bigger workload when it comes to scoring chances – which he is still capable of. when he’s on the floor. Last season, Hayward was one of five weak forwards to average over 15 points, four rebounds and three assists per game, and shoot over 45 percent from the floor. The problem is that he played less than 50 games in each of his first two seasons at Charlotte. The Hornets are clearly hoping this trend doesn’t continue.

Key games

Hornets vs. Spurs, October 19: This is the first game of the season for the Hornets and gives them the opportunity to start the season on the right foot. To put it mildly, the Spurs will not be very good, so Charlotte will be able to benefit. As a team aiming for the playoffs, the Hornets should start the season with a win.

Hornets at the Hawks, 23 October.: The Hawks were the ones who eliminated Charlotte in a tournament play-in last season, so this will serve as a kind of rematch for the Hornets. They won’t have to wait too long for their reprisals as this is their third game of the season.

Warriors v Hornets, Oct. 29: The Warriors are the defending champions, so this game will give the Hornets a chance to face off against the best. The Hornets won one of two games against Golden State last season, so they may be able to get another win. Also, since the game is in Charlotte, it will give Hornets fans a chance to try and convince Steph Curry to eventually join the team. star guard discussed previously.



Source: www.cbssports.com

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