Charlotte Hornets Off-Season 2020: Building from the NBA Draft

The Charlotte Hornets have not been to the playoffs since the 2015-2016 NBA playoffs when they were led by Kemba Walker. Each season since, they have had a losing record in the regular season. In 2018, the Hornets brought on new general manager Mitch Kupchak and new head coach James Borrego. This Charlotte Hornets’ off-season, they started their rebuilding process for a potential winning record and run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Draft

LaMelo Ball: With the third pick in the 2020 NBA draft, the Hornets took LaMelo Ball. The 6’7″ point guard had been playing professionally overseas for three years gaining experience in playing professional games. This season, the pick for Charlotte is already paying off for them. LaMelo started his first three games shooting 33% from the field, scoring just 19 points total in that span. Since then, he has become the youngest player to score a triple-double and making a case to be rookie of the year. His size and playmaking ability are quickly becoming noticeable for the Hornets team.

Vernon Carey Jr.: The Hornets took Vernon Carey Jr with the second pick in the second round of the NBA draft. This season, he has played just one game, where he made three points. But, he is a respectable player out of Duke University, where he averaged 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and one assist per game. He was quite efficient, shooting 57.7% from the field and 38.1% from behind the arc as a 6’10” big man.

Nick Richards: Nick Richards was traded from the Pelicans in the draft to the Hornets with the 42nd pick. The 6’11” big man out of Kentucky had an outstanding senior year at Kentucky. He averaged 14 points and 7.8 rebounds off of 64.2% shooting from the field. Richards also averaged over 2.0 blocks per game with the Wildcats too. He could be a solid young option for the Hornets in the future.

Grant Riller: Grant Riller was taken with the fifth to last pick in the 2020 NBA draft to the Hornets. Grant Riller is a 6’3″ point guard out of Charleston, where he played a major role there. He averaged 32.3 minutes per game in his career and recorded 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Riller will need to improve his jump shot and passing ability, but he is a physical and crafty point guard that can create for others.

Free Agency

Gordon Hayward: While technically a sign-and-trade with the Boston Celtics, Gordon Hayward signed a four-year $120 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets. Gordon Hayward had to muscle his way back to being an elite NBA player three years ago with a season-ending injury.

Last season, he averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists with the Celtics. He shot 50% from the field and 38% from behind the arc. While the contract value is high, considering he will be making $30 million per year when he is 34, the small forward is already averaging 22 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game with the Hornets on 49% shooting from the field and 41.3% shooting from distance.

Outlook

While the Charlotte Hornets have not been the best or most entertaining team to watch in recent NBA, they are starting to turn things around as a franchise. While they still need pieces to the puzzle, they have great players in Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier, and Bismack Biyombo. They are currently 6-6 and hold the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference picture.

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