Charlotte Hornets are stuck in neutral with current roster makeup

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets / Streeter Lecka/GettyImages

It’s reality check time in Charlotte. This season is not going anywhere anytime soon. The Hornets could have every injured player return to their lineup completely healthy, and they are at-best, an also-ran for the play-in tournament, missing that version of postseason play by a sizable number of games.

For anyone who wants to argue the opposite, that’s fine, they’re wrong, but that is still fine. This is a team winning games at just under a 27% rate. Even though they’ve been without LaMelo Ball for most of the season, so far, the winning percentage is unlikely to skyrocket with him in the lineup. The best possible scenario with the franchise’s best player is probably sitting around 35–38%. This is also known as no-man’s land. Being in this position is the fast track to irrelevancy, and that is the last thing this team needs when they are at the beginning stages of working their way back to competitiveness.

The fact of the matter is that the Hornets do not have enough top-end talent or quality depth to do anything noteworthy this season. LaMelo is the clear star of this team, but recurring injuries at the age of 22 appear to be a fairly ominous sign of the direction his career will head in. Brandon Miller has impressed as a rookie and has surpassed the expectations of most draft experts. However, saying the Hornets have a budding star in Miller at this juncture is very premature. Mark Williams is a solid big man and could help anchor their defense, but players of his profile (think Jarrett Allen) have a cap on what they can contribute long-term. After this group, it is a mix of expiring contracts, obvious trade candidates, and underwhelming role players. This is not exactly a roster configuration that is going to lead to winning consistently.

Charlotte needs to consider a hard reset of their roster. This means anyone not named Ball, Miller, or Williams is available. These are the only three players who should be guaranteed roster spots on next year’s roster, as they need to turn the page on players such as Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier in an effort to get the franchise on the right footing moving forward. Failing to do this will result in more meaningless basketball in Charlotte.  

Continuing to pretend that this version of the Hornets can actually compete for something is insulting to players and fans alike, as it is beyond obvious that this flawed and poorly constructed team is not going anywhere this season. It is in the best interest of the franchise to come to this realization sooner rather than later, as waiting will only result in non-competitive basketball residing in Charlotte much longer than anyone wants.