Thought it might be interesting to do a ceiling and floor prediction for this year’s Hornets, extreme endpoints if you will. E.g. the team will undoubtedly be between these predictions. So here goes, just for fun…
Floor: The team has a problem ever keeping it in gear this year. They have budding talent but none of it contributes to wins in a meaningful way. Hayward spends a significant amount of time protectively addressing or preventing injury. Neither Martin ever distances himself from sub-optimal replacement off the bench and they both get far more run than anticipated due to Hayward’s treatment. Jalen shows good promise but cannot play make which limits his impact. Miles preseason flash is just that and like Bacon the prior year, it’s the best he will look in 2020-21. PJ takes the majority of the season to find a balance in the ever-changing role the staff has asked him to take on and while he leaves the season in better shape (not just physical) than he entered, it didn’t contribute to any significant better play this year. Cody’s trade value has been hurt by minor injuries and inconsistent play and we settle on letting his contract expire. A small issue heading into the offseason will be if we bring back Cody as an elder statesman in the Biz roll or run it back with a 2nd 1 year contract for Biz. Neither player pushed the meter and unfortunately Nick never found any offense and Carey Jr. took a significant amount of time to find any ability to guard anything but plodding undersized centers. Ball get’s a serious amount of run and is in consideration for ROTY because of playing time but falls short of that mostly due to the perceive empty calories of his play. Monk remains highly inconsistent and is not given a QO and leaves for other pastures following the season. Both Devonte’ and Terry play at a high level and keep the team from abysmal levels though teams are often able to run Terry off of set shots due to the limits of our offense which hurts our overall game. We finish with the 5th worst record in the league and lose 1 spot in the draft lottery.
Ceiling: Ball plays the season coming off the bench with Miles and Biz and prove to be a wicked pace change when entered. Ball works on his shot throughout the year and takes a dip in percentage entering the ASB but comes out of it with a more consistent base and results. He proves to be must-watch tv for his passing alone but starts to hit some very positive milestones with points and rebounds in the back third of the season. Miles proves that preseason was no fluke and is in conversations around the league as a candidate for MIP. PJ’s preseason concerns are addressed in the first few weeks of the season as JB simplifies his role - the effect is immediate and PJ settles back into his prior year trajectory. Devonte’ proves that last year was no fluke and both he and Terry begin to get league-wide notice for their distance shooting as both get selected for the 3pt shooting contest during the ASB (though there is no actual game/week so it’s titular only). Monk grabs a firm hold of the 9th rotation spot and relegates the Martins to patchwork fill-in only. Much of the league believes that Monk has played so well he’s played himself out of Charlotte though he credits the staff and org for sticking with him. Jalen proves to be on a serious value incline and is Sharpie’d in for heavy rotation in '22 which will take the sting out of losing Monk if that becomes an inevitability. Hayward shows a near return to his Utah self although he does get some B2Bs off due to load management on the ankle. He credits that with a reason to feel highly optimistic about 2021-22. The team finishes in the play-in at #9 (12th worst overall) and amazingly hits on the 1.9% lottery chance to move from #12 to #3 in the draft.
Odds are that neither is close to right but can also feel pretty safe that we don’t leak out of either endpoint here