Coming off a 27-55 record last season, it is understandable that the Charlotte Hornets would not be a highly regarded team in preseason power rankings, But there is a distinct difference between being low on a team and being outright disrespectful, with the latter being a more accurate description of how the Hornets are perceived in the eyes of The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor.
They find themselves placed in a group of teams that O’Connor considers to be building their foundation for the future is the Hornets. While that is an accurate description of Charlotte’s state of their rebuild, their actual ranking is the issue. O’Connor ranks the Hornets 29th in the NBA, only ahead of the Washington Wizards.
"“The Hornets were 25th in defensive rating until last season’s All-Star break. Then, they inserted rookie center Mark Williams into the starting lineup, and he helped catapult them to a seventh-place defensive rating to finish the season. Now entering his second season, the no. 15 pick in the 2022 draft is up from 240 to 260 pounds, and the Hornets’ ailing offense is about to get some help: LaMelo Ball is back, and Brandon Miller, Miles Bridges, and Nick Smith Jr. will provide reinforcements. Charlotte has a lot to prove to move up the rankings, but for the first time in a long while, it looks like the team’s got a blueprint worth pursuing.”"
One would think with so many positive aspects that O’Connor points out that they would be higher than second-to-last. Sure, pretty much everything went wrong in Charlotte last season, although most of that can be due to the high volume of missed games from key players. The returns of LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, as well as the additions of Brandon Miller and Nick Smith Jr., should lead to better results in Charlotte this season. Yes, this team has a lot to prove, but it is incredibly hard to believe they will be unable to find a way to be better than the 29th team in the league.