It has been a rough start to the 2023-24 season for the Charlotte Hornets. This is a team that is yet to win back-to-back games and has endured multi-game losing streaks of two, three, and four through the first 13 games on their schedule.
Even though the results have not been in their favor, Charlotte's lineup of LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, Brandon Miller, Gordon Hayward, and Mark Williams have been able to dominate their opponents when on the court together. There is only one problem. This specific player grouping has only been on the floor together for 32 minutes this season, the third-most frequently used in Charlotte, the second being almost twice as much, and the most being just under two-and-a-half times more.
The frustrating aspect regarding this ratio of lineups played is that this grouping has a net rating of almost 30, which is beyond encouraging, while the top two combos on the list are -2.3 and -17.3. There does appear to be some doubts about this lineup being able to keep up this level of play, as Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley pointed out in his Ranking Every NBA Team's Starting Lineup So Far.
"This lineup has bulldozed opponents by 29.8 points per 100 possessions so far, but it's only spent 32 minutes together, so is any of this sustainable? This ranking shows our skepticism."- Zach Buckley
With Buckley's skepticism in mind, it is not exactly a surprise to see Charlotte's lineup of Ball, Bridges, Miller, Hayward, and Williams check in at number 24 on this ranking.
Perhaps Hornets coach Steve Clifford may feel inclined to play this particular lineup a bit more, considering how well they have performed in their relatively short time together. If this group is deployed and still finds a way to be this productive, it will not be long before they skyrocket up similar lists in the future.
But with the small sample size being taken into account here, there is a very real chance that this group sees a massive correction in the net rating department that will make the aformentioned skepticism more than justified.
It is just going to come down to getting a large enough sample size of minutes played by this group. The additional minutes they see on the court together should either validate their early season performance or discredit it entirely. Until that time comes, questions about the authenticity of it will continue to grow in number and frequency.