With the 2021-22 NBA season approaching, the Charlotte Hornets were expected to look to the outside in terms of playoff or play-in tournaments.
They were one of the youngest teams in the NBA and they were on a timeline that advised patience.
But the Hornets have won 43 games and abruptly finished 10th in the Competitive Eastern Conference, earning a place in their play-in tournament.
Once there, they had no resemblance to the slightly more seasoned Atlanta Hawks, who beat them 132-103, but now Charlotte has reason to hope and optimism.
The team has multiple promising young players and is looking for a new coach who can unlock their potential.
What should fans really expect from Hornets next season?
Players who are emerging
LaMelo Ball, last season’s Rookie of the Year, is an increasingly blue-chipper of the Hornets who have averaged 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.6 a game this season, building an All-Star team with 38.9 percent hits. 3-point shot.
As a 6-foot-7 point guard, some see him as a superstar prospect.
The lamello ball has a low quality improvement from 1 year to 2 years pic.twitter.com/KbGqeBOzCZ
– Charlotte Hornetsonly (haChaHornetsOnly) May 15, 2022
Ball is the younger brother of Lonzo Ball, who currently plays for the Chicago Bulls and entered the NBA five years ago amid widespread publicity.
Many thought that the big ball would become not only a superstar but also a Hall of Famer, probably because his father Lover Ball promoted him to be the equivalent of basketball which is the next best thing after sliced bread.
Once it became clear that Lonzo Ball was merely a good player but not exceptional, there was skepticism surrounding Lamelo, as some thought he too would be all hype and no substance.
But he has proven to be a much better player than his older siblings.
W takes the help of the feet! Melod 1p
– Charlotte Hornets (Hornets) May 9, 2022
Miles Bridges, a 6-foot-6 forward who picked up the lottery in 2018, is the cornerstone of another franchise, and he has 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists this season.
He may not have the ball ceiling, but the hornets are still on top of him.
Moves can be made
It has been rumored that Charlotte wants to be released from the contracts of some players this summer, most notably Gordon Hayward.
At age 32, Hayward is still an outstanding shooter, a legitimate scoring threat, and a decent playmaker.
But he is prone to injury, a problem that occurred during his catastrophic foot injury a few years ago, and his inability to stay healthy for at least 70 races in a single season has prevented him from justifying around $ 30 million in his contract each year.
If Charlotte succeeds him in jetting out, it could get him a player or other asset that could help him take it one step further this upcoming season.
Also notable players are guard Terry Rozier, who is short on the defensive end but a strong scoring threat and Wing Kelly O’Brien Jr., a decent outside shooter and defender who is athletic and a strong finisher.
If the Hornets add a little more serviceable size to the front, they could participate in the NBA playoffs next spring, especially if the ball takes its game to the next level.