When looking at the Charlotte Hornets’ roster, there are plenty of options to choose from when selecting a possible breakout candidate. Some may go with one of their rookies, Brandon Miller of Nick Smith Jr. Others could opt to pick P.J. Washington. But not John Hollinger of the Athletic.
When choosing Charlotte’s entry in The Athletic’s Each NBA team’s biggest breakout candidate for 2023-24 (subscription required), Hollinger chose second-year big man Mark Williams. It appears a lot of stock is being placed in Williams’ stretch as a starter toward the end of last season, in addition to what he accomplished in the G League in Greensboro.
"“Charlotte has the second pick in the draft and an All-Star returning from injury, but if you want a true breakout candidate, look no further than Williams. The 15th pick in the 2022 draft hardly playing most of his rookie season but started 17 late-season games and enters his sophomore season as the clear starter in the middle. Certainly there’s a case production-wise: He blocked a shot every 18 minutes, rebounded 19.6 percent of missed shots and finished with a 19.8 PER after leading the G League in both categories during his assignment in Greensboro.”"
While this is a convincing case, caution must be exercised here. Williams should be able to continue being productive when it comes to rebounds and blocks, but his scoring could take a hit in year two. The second-year big man averaged 9.0 points per game as a rookie, with that number increasing to 11.6 points when he got his chances in the starting lineup. But with the return of LaMelo Ball and P.J. Washington, in addition to the Hornets drafting Brandon Miller, he could see fewer shot opportunities outside of those coming on offensive rebounds.
This is not to say that Williams will not breakout this season, just that there is a very real scenario that could see him find difficulty repeating his scoring output while putting up similar rebound and block numbers. Even if that were the case, it would still be a successful season for Williams in Charlotte.