Charlotte Hornets: Evaluating the Roster’s Potential Future with the Team

Charlotte Hornets huddle (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets huddle (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
6 of 7
Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

With two guys becoming free agents and one entering into the last year of his contract, the center spot could be the most tumultuous for the Charlotte Hornets.

Bismack Biyombo

At this point, Bismack Biyombo basically is what he is gonna be. Solid rim protector, decent rebounder, limited offensively. He’s bounced in and out of the rotation all season long as Coach James Borrego and the Charlotte Hornets have been trying to see what they have at the center position.

He’s posted a career-high in PPG this season, and he’s shown improvement on the offensive end, but he’s basically at his peak. He’s a free agent after the year, but it’s basically a coin flip on if he returns.

Outlook: Walks in FA/Rotation Big

Willy Hernangomez

Willy is a weird one. He has been out of the rotation most of the year before the Hornets basically waved the white flag on the year, and he got some more playing time. He’s had some impressive performances (15 PTS on 100% shooting and 6 REB in 10 minutes, although was in a blowout against mostly backups) but has not shown enough to stake his claim for consistent minutes.

He was showing signs of having an improving 3-ball the past two years, although on a VERY small sample size and volume, but the ability to knock down open triples would make the defenders respect him more and open the floor for others.

All that seemed to fall apart this year (23% on 0.7 attempts per game), he didn’t need to be able to knock them down consistently, but now defenders can sag off more and clog up the paint. Willy Hernangomez doesn’t seem to have much more room for improvement, despite being 25. He’s very patient in the post and has a couple of nice post moves, he also has decent playmaking chops for a big, and he is the team’s best offensive rebounder.

Despite these qualities, his lack of offensive game past 10ish feet, and lack of athleticism and defensive instincts really hamper his potential. Centers with little to none switchability and rim-protection just do not have much value in today’s game.

Willy’s basically stuck, unless he unlocks a more expanded offensive game and uses his touch to unlock a decent outside shot, his offense will just not be enough to keep him and his sub-par defense on the court for long periods of time. I think Willy can be useful somewhere, I just don’t think it’s in Charlotte.

Outlook: Walks in FA/End of rotation big

Charlotte Hornets: Obi Toppin is the Ideal Modern Day Forward. light. More

Cody Zeller

“The Big Handsome” was the franchise’s 4th overall pick in the 2013 draft and has been a staple in the team ever since them. Zeller has been injury-prone his whole career, appearing in over 70 games only 3 times in his 7 seasons, which is a product of unluckiness and the hustle he brings.

He’s a very solid player and can be a contributor to almost any team in the league. Cody Zeller is having his best season to date also, posting career highs in Points and Rebounds Per Game, and has only missed 3 games due to injury in the 65 games the Hornets have played.

Cody’s most important part of his game besides his hustle, has to be the offense he creates for others with his bone-jarring screens. This year the number has dwindled (3 Per Game) due to not having Kemba Walker, but last year he was second in the entire league, averaging 5.4 screen assists per contests.

Zeller overall is a solid player to have and the Charlotte Hornets’ best center, but next year I really anticipate that the Hornets put a young center in the pipeline. Whether that means Cody has to share minutes, which he has done this season anyways, or not I don’t know.

Either way Cody would be a good player to have on and off the court, to mentor the young players and also for competitive reasons. Although I do expect Mitch Kupchak to test his value in the trade market this offseason as well, I think that Cody stays.

Outlook: Starting Center or situational backup/Potential trade bait