The Charlotte Hornets were picked to finish near or at the bottom of the league by almost every major media outlet coming into the 2020-2021 NBA season. Led by the reinvigorated Gordon Hayward, dynamic rookie LaMelo Ball, and sharpshooter Terry Rozier, two months into the season the Hornets are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 13-win, 15-loss record.
Statistically, the Hornets are a mixed bag. There are areas where the Hornets have improved as a team but there remain areas that need improvement that has continued to plague them for multiple seasons.
It is well known by now that the Hornets struggle in rebounding on both ends of the court. The Hornets give up a lot of offensive rebounds and second-chance points to their opponents, and they currently are 23rd in the league in defensive rebounding. The Hornets’ three-point defense has gotten worse as they are routinely giving up a high number of three-pointers each game; oftentimes allowing teams to tie or break franchise records for three-pointers in a game. The Hornets currently rank 18th both in offensive and defensive ratings.
On the positive side, while they give up a lot of three-point field goals, the Hornets are able to stay in games because of their three-point field goal percentage. The Hornets currently rank ninth in the league in three-point field goal percentage (37.9%). The Hornets have been moving the ball around the court, passing well on offense all season. The team is currently second in the league in assists per game (27.5). All is not bleak on the defensive side of the court, the Hornets average 7.9 stealing per game, ranking 10th in the league so far this season, and they are fifth in the league in opponent turnover percentage (13.6%).
While the Hornets search for more consistency, they look to continue to build on strengths and work on team flaws in the coming months as they push to contend for their first playoff berth since the 2015-2016 season. Let’s take a look at three surprises that have contributed to the Hornets’ success so far this season.