The Charlotte Hornets enter the upcoming season as a team that is hard to figure out. An argument can be made that they should be a team contending for some form of postseason play while at the same time pushing for the team to trade away veteran players in an effort to tank on more time is equally valid. But when it comes to their biggest question for the upcoming season, it is centered on one player in particular. LaMelo Ball.
According to Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, Can Lamelo Ball Lead a Winner? is the biggest question for the Charlotte Hornets. This is less about Ball’s production as a player and whether or not his playing style is conducive to winning.
"“In his 162 career games, he’s totaled 3,149 points, 1,188 assists and 1,034 rebounds. Oscar Robertson and Luka Dončić are the only players in NBA history who matched or exceeded all three marks in their first 162 games.But throughout his career, his impact on the Charlotte Hornets’ plus-minus has been minimal at best. During his three seasons, they’re 23rd in the league in winning percentage.”"
To be fair, the first two years of Ball’s time in Charlotte appeared to have an upward trajectory, while last season was a complete disaster. It is easy to discard the 2022-23 season as the outlier from a team standpoint, as injuries piled up, including Ball’s, which led to their disappointing 27-55 record. The consistent state of non-competitiveness in Charlotte makes things difficult for anyone to be successful no matter how talented and productive of a player they are. With that in mind, a lot is hinging on the upcoming season.
The Hornets do not necessarily need to start over, but as Bailey notes, if they are not more competitive questions could arise about his health and ability to lead this franchise. Charlotte should be in a much better position to at least contend for a spot in the Play-In Tournament. This is a team that should have its full complement of players available to them more often than not, this includes Ball, Miles Bridges, and the oft-injured Gordon Hayward. But is important to keep in mind that anything can happen, and that includes another season that goes by the wayside.