It was already beginning to look like a rough season for the Charlotte Hornets. This was a team that has mostly struggled to keep up with their opponents this season, with their 5-11 record being clear evidence of exactly that. But now, the already tough going in Charlotte is going to be even tougher, and there is a good chance that this team bottoms out before the end of the season.
The Hornets are without their best player in LaMelo Ball, for what is expected to be an extended period of time. There are very few teams who are able to survive a stretch that sees their best player sidelined, and Charlotte is not one of them. In fact, this was a Hornets team that was struggling with Ball, which makes his removal from the equation even more concerning.
There are a couple of young bright spots on this roster but nobody is anywhere remotely close to the talent level of Ball at this current moment in time. In an ideal scenario, Ball is able to help elevate the play of potential foundational players Mark Williams and Brandon Miller. But now, they are left without the best player on the roster to set them up accordingly, which could make an impact on their success rate relatively quickly.
The other issue for the Hornets is the presence of two veteran players who are obviously not going to be part of the next competitive team in Charlotte taking up minutes that would be better distributed to the younger players on the roster who have a much better chance of being on a winning team. It would be different if Charlotte's 5-11 record was inverted with Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier being able to contribute in complementary roles. But with the opposite being true, the justification to keep both on the roster loses credibility with each passing day.
This is not to suggest that the Hornets should embrace on full-on tank because, well, they shouldn't. But it would be in the best interest of the organization to understand what their true talent level is and just how far they are away from being considered among the league's best. This is a team that has such a low talent floor that it can result in games being considered long before the 4th quarter is over, even when Ball is in the lineup.
If Charlotte were to part ways with the few veteran players on their roster, it would show a level of recognition of where they are in the competitive cycle. Their current position in that cycle indicates that having any sort of veteran player in a prominent role does not make much sense. The Hornets would be better served in the long run by reallocating these minutes across the roster in an effort to hopefully develop a player in real-time. This could prove to be very beneficial when Ball does return to action and further down the line with more younger difference-maker-type players in place.
Either path the Hornets take at this juncture point is going to have the same immediate result, bad basketball that sees losses pile up. It is down to whether or not the Hornets want to continue the charade that is their potential playoff contention or accept the fact that this team, as currently constructed, is going nowhere.