Charlotte Hornets fans finally don’t have to worry about NBA draft
The Charlotte Hornets are 7-5 in their last 12 games. After a season of losses, the Hornets have become better defensively, and have subsequently started winning more. Over the last 10 games, the Hornets have the 2nd highest defensive rating in the NBA. A large part of that improvement is due to Mark Williams starting eight of the last 10 games. It took them 37 days to amass their previous seven wins. So why is there a pit in your stomach every time the Hornets hang another win?
This season has been one of loss. Injuries have piled up, and there is still the pending decision about Miles Bridges. In a draft with potential franchise-changing players available, there have been worse times to be bad. But with this sudden improvement, even without star guard LaMelo Ball, it would be understandable to lament every win and secretly enjoy every loss. There have been (excellent) pieces written about the cognitive dissonance that fans of bad NBA teams must endure.
Thankfully, with only 12 games remaining for the Hornets, fans of the team can finally rest easy. The Hornets have the fourth-fewest wins (22) in the league this season. The next fewest wins total is 28, by the Orlando Magic. They have 14 games remaining. Barring a blistering pace by the Hornets and a winless streak by Orlando, the Hornets are safely tucked into fourth place for the fewest wins in the season.
It is always possible that those two things could occur. The Hornets are playing better defensively, and teams have a way of suddenly becoming inept when it’s obvious that their season will end after game 82. While the regular season is almost over, and the postseason isn’t an option, there is still a lot of intrigue remaining to unfold. A sports soap opera. Young and the Winless, so to speak.
There is also the possibility that the Hornets could find their way into the bottom three of wins this season. It’s an important distinction. The bottom three teams get the most chances at securing the top pick in the draft. This feels like a distinctly less likely chance of occurring. Even though only one of the Hornets’ last 12 games is against a team out of the playoff/play-in scenario, it’s difficult to believe that the Spurs (17), Rockets (15), or Pistons (15) will go on a winning streak to finish the season.
The Pistons traded their best veteran player Saddiq Bey. The Spurs traded their best rim protector and defender, Jakob Poeltl to the Raptors. And the Houston Rockets traded starter, Eric Gordon. Bottom-tier teams usually trade talent for future assets or salary cap flexibility, and this season was certainly no different.
There you have it, the Charlotte Hornets are likely locked into their draft lottery chances. So rest well, Hornets fans, and enjoy every drop of every win for the rest of the season.