Keep sleeping on the Hornets. They appreciate it.
Ever since the Bobcats expansion team, the Hornets have been downright uncompetitive. Here's a list of things I'd rate higher than the Bobcats-era Hornets: Unibrows, The Emoji Movie, jean-shorts, socks with sandals, and finally, black licorice (just don't). Things have been pretty bad, to say the least. In fact, in the new Hornets era (2004-current), Charlotte has gone 3-12 in the playoffs, not winning a single series.
The Hornets are the best team nobody is talking about. Their offseason has gone extremely underrated. They've managed to add Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon, Dwight Howard, and Michael Carter-Williams to the roster, while only losing Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli. And yet, they get little to no media coverage for this roster revamp. In fact, the Hornets might even be the least talked-about NBA team. Despite having a top five roster in the East, they only have eight primetime games, most of which are against the Warriors, Cavs, or Lakers.
How good can the Hornets actually be?
A large portion of the Hornets success lies on how good the new center rotation of Cody Zeller and Dwight Howard can actually be. Assuming they both play the same amount of minutes, it should be a pretty fierce defensive rotation. If they can both manage to stay healthy, the Hornets should definitely be a better team than last season. Another player that could make the Hornets very successful is C/PF Frank Kaminsky. Last Season, Kaminsky was surprisingly the team's third leading scorer, despite only averaging 26 minutes. If he can crack the starting five, and gain a little more production than last season, he could be one of the many main factors in how good the Hornets can be this year.
Moving to the backcourt, Kemba Walker is easily Charlotte's most talented player. He's a pure, efficient scorer, coming off of an all-star season. If he can stay healthy, the Hornets will, at the very least, not suck. Nic Batum, the Hornet's highest paid player, is a very interesting case. His defense can be sketchy at times, but for the most part, is a very consistent player, offensively, and defensively. If he can improve his efficiency, it will benefit the Hornets' offense tremendously. Another player that should have a big impact for the Hornets is rookie two-guard Malik Monk. His scoring lit all of the college basketball up, and if it translates to the NBA like many scouts believe, he could be a very special player.
Going back to the SF position, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist needs to figure out his jump shot this year, or he might be coming off the bench instead of starting. He is a defensive stud, but when it comes to offense, he is a non-factor. In today's NBA, you really need at least some type of offensive firepower to be successful. However, if he manages to somehow find a rhythm this year, he could be one of the top candidates for the NBA's Most Improved Player, especially if the Hornets make the playoffs. Remember, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is only 23.
With all of these "ifs", it seems the Hornets have a low floor, and a high ceiling, which is very true. Kemba Walker is coming off of a Knee surgery, and we have no idea how consistent the new combo of Zeller and Howard will be. But, people also have to remember the latter, which is that if the roster stays healthy and consistent, the Hornets will be a top five seed, maybe even top three.
Over the course of the offseason, the Hornet's depth improved mightily, especially in the backcourt. They signed former ROY Micheal Carter-Williams, for around $2.7 million. He easily filled the largest need of the Hornets, the backup point guard. Another place where the Hornets gained depth was the center position when they traded for former DPOY Dwight Howard. Last year, when Cody Zeller was injured, the Hornets went on a very bad losing streak, which is arguably the reason Charlotte missed the playoffs. With the new rotation of Zeller and Howard, the Hornets have one of, if not the best defensive center combo in the NBA
Keep Sleeping (or Resting, rather)
In the last month, the NBA has stayed busy. One of the numerous things that happened is that the schedule was released. A major stat that favors the Hornets schedule vs. other teams' schedules is the number of rest disadvantages Charlotte has. When a team has a rest disadvantage, it means that the opposing team has had more rest time than your team. For instance, if your favorite NBA team has had one day to rest, while the team they are facing has had two or more days to rest, your team has a rest disadvantage. The Hornets have the least amount of these disadvantages in the NBA this season. Not to mention, the Hornets have only 14 back-to-backs, which is just under the league average.
All in all, the Hornets playoff odds are a lot better than many speculate. And who knows, maybe they'll do better than even I think, making a run at the Eastern Conference Finals. Just don't forget that you read this article and that this random writer was (hopefully) right.