Charlotte Hornets: Who’s the Odd Man out in the Guard Rotation?

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /
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Just two off-seasons ago, news broke that Kemba Walker was leaving Charlotte Hornets, his home for 8-years, to head to the Boston Celtics in free agency. The Hornets struggled to get guard rotation depth behind Kemba after Jeremy Lin left following the 2015-2016 season, they were now without their star player and franchise cornerstone, leaving the guard rotation looking even bleaker than it had before.

The Hornets had options, they swung a deal with the Celtics to acquire Terry Rozier in the sign-and-trade deal for Walker, and Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk were already on the roster. The problem was, only of them was a proven role-player in the NBA, who was being thrust into essentially his first-ever long-term starting gig, after being Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving’s understudy in Boston. Graham had 46 games to his name as basically a back-up and who spent most of the season prior bouncing back-and-forth between Greensboro and Charlotte, and the struggling Monk, who had yet to begin to live up to his late lottery pick billing. Dwayne Bacon, Cody Martin, and Caleb Martin were used as shooting guards, but those players fit better at small forward. Cody Martin was also given some point guard spot minutes but he was, uh, less than impressive in his time there. It was safe to say that the Hornets guard rotation was not really looking that bright.

Fast forward to now, Graham broke out and is a reliable, solid NBA point guard. Rozier had a solid season last year but has broken out this year and even started to garner some fringe All-Star chatter towards the middle of the season. Monk has provided a spark off the bench after finally earning a rotation spot about 20 games into the season. LaMelo Ball was selected with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft after the Hornets moved up in the draft lottery, and boy has he been something spectacular so far, bringing excitement and sky-high upside to the team.

Having four decent, young rotational guards is a good problem to have, but contracts exist, and building a good team while paying four guards with expensive contracts is very hard to do especially considering the Hornets’ need of a defensive wing and a big man. The Hornets will potentially have to choose three of the four guards to move forward with. Who could be the one that doesn’t move forward with the team long-term?