The Charlotte Hornets' roster did not have a large number of big bodies down low, but they are a huge part of why they were one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the NBA this past season. With two potential free agents and a former top-five overall pick in the group, the Hornets will enter the offseason with a lot of questions and potential holes to fill.
So let’s take a look at a current group, their current role and the potential future at the position.
Last season was Zeller’s best season in the league. He career highs in scoring and rebounding as the Hornets main player in the paint. He will never be a rim protector, but his ability to set screens and offensive rebound were key for the team last season.
Zeller averaged a career high 2.8 offensive rebounds per game in less than 24 minutes played which translates to 4.3 per game over 36 minutes. His attention to detail on the offensive glass allowed the Hornets to be ranked 3rd in the league offensive rebounding last season.
Going into his eighth season in the league, we have a very good idea of the type of player that Zeller will be on this team. It is not a bad thing. Every team needs a player like Zeller and his value will go up even higher if he continues to extend his range. He hit 18 three pointers last season, he only 10 in his previous six seasons combined.
Like Zeller, Biyombo also had his best offensive season in the league last season. His 7.4 points per game was the highest of his career and for the first time he averaged more than 7 points a game in a season. He won’t be a weapon scoring the basketball, but his offensive rebounding is important in an offense that has Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier III shooting three pointers on a regular basis.
He is Charlotte’s only defensive anchor and still can be a solid rim protector on most nights. Unfortunately he is a free agent this off-season and could be brought back on a much friendlier contract. He will not get the same type of contract he got in Orlando four years ago, but regardless whether they address the bigman position in the draft or in free agency, Biyombo should be brought back as a teacher and key reserve next season.
Hernangomez only played in 31 games last season as the coaching staff could not figure out how to keep him in the rotation. When given time on the floor, he can provide points and rebounds on good percentages. But the problem is, he is not the most athletic floor and is not very good protecting the rim.
His contract is not guaranteed, so if they decide not to bring him back it will not be a major loss. But if they bring him back, he should not cost much against the salary cap.