While the Charlotte Hornets are off to a surprisingly solid start to the 2022-23 season, it is never too early to look to the future.
As they do every year, ESPN recently released their NBA Future Power Rankings (ESPN+ subscription required). With an eye toward the future, these power rankings are meant to reflect the projected success for every NBA team over next three seasons (2023-24, 2024-25, 2025-26).
Where do Charlotte Hornets rank in NBA Future Power Rankings?
The Charlotte Hornets come in at 29th in the 2022 edition of the NBA Future Power Rankings, down from 22nd in the 2021 rankings and ahead of only the Utah Jazz. As expected, the ongoing legal situation of Miles Bridges has resulted in a significant slide in the rankings. In addition, it is noted that Charlotte historically has to overpay for free agents, so their upcoming cap space in the next few years may not be as large of an asset as it would be for another franchise.
ESPN focuses on five categories to compile an aggregate score in their NBA Future Power Rankings; these are players, management, money, market, and draft.
Interestingly enough, the Hornets were ranked in the top 10 in both money (tied-7th) and draft (tied-9th) but were 25th or lower in players (26th), management (27th), and market (25th).
While the Hornets have a franchise cornerstone in LaMelo Ball, ESPN does not look favorably on the long-term prospects of the rest of the roster. They also do not look favorably on Mitch Kupchak, who is now in his fifth season as the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets.
The rankings also penalized the Hornets for being in a small market, which inherently limits the franchise’s appeal as a free agent destination.
The Hornets are in a good position in terms of money, as they are currently projected to have the seventh-highest amount of cap space in the 2024 offseason. Charlotte also has a solid amount of draft capital in the next few years, with a combined seven draft picks in the next two drafts.
Overall, ESPN clearly believes that the Hornets are not set up for success over the next few seasons. It is worth noting that the Cleveland Cavaliers were ranked 30th in the 2021 NBA Future Power Rankings and responded by going 44-38 and adding Donovan Mitchell in the ensuing offseason. With that in mind, it is up to the Hornets themselves to prove the 2022 NBA Future Power Rankings wrong.