At what point do the Charlotte Hornets throw in the towel on the 2022-23 season? There's still a ton of basketball left, but at 4-14 and the team's inability to stay healthy, it feels like the Hornets are inching closer and closer to claiming this as a "lost year".
Should fans really be all that surprised though? I mean, this is a team that did not make a single move in the offseason. Well, yes, they did sign Dennis Smith Jr., but you get my point. Bringing in DSJ and re-signing Cody Martin, who has played just one game this year, to a four-year contract, is not enough to keep this team competitive.
The margin for error for this team is extremely thin. They can't afford injuries to key guys like LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, and Martin - a key role player. It's a group that lacks experience and star power. And when you win 43 games a year ago, yet finish 9th in the Eastern Conference, that tells you the uphill battle you have ahead of you. When just about every team made moves in the offseason to improve their roster and you didn't, this is what is to be expected.
Can you really blame the Hornets for not doing anything? To a certain extent, no. They were handcuffed with no money to spend and the whole Miles Bridges situation completely changed their plans.
Some folks may want to point the finger at head coach Steve Clifford, but what do you expect the man to do? He hasn't had his full compliment of players once this season and for a team that's adapting to a new style of basketball, that's a tough deal when you're not healthy.
Clifford was visibly frustrated in his postgame press conference following the loss to the Washington Wizards Sunday night and explained what his biggest issue with the team is at the moment.
"The biggest thing is, we have to start -- we've got to play tougher. Be more physical, okay? And it can't be just when we feel good. We're tired, they're tired. We got to rebound. We got to have blockout attitude. It cost us a game in Cleveland. We missed a blockout, one blockout we win that game. Same thing tonight. We start getting tougher, play with some physicality, we'll start to win. It was a major problem last year. It's a major problem still. It's not something you have to work on. It's somebody go get the ball. It's as simple as that."
The Hornets have been getting torched on the defensive end all season long. They haven't been able to stay in front of guys when driving to the basket, fail to put up much of a fight inside the paint, and most importantly, they've been getting drilled on the boards. Charlotte is allowing 11.4 offensive rebounds per game and 16.6 2nd chance points per game, which ranks 29th in the league.
A year ago, the Hornets were able to hide some of their defensive deficiencies because of how well they shot the ball. The offense has fallen off a cliff as the Hornets are shooting 44% from the field as a team and 31% from three-point land. These were two categories Charlotte finished 6th and 11th in last year, respectively.
I know Cliff would love for the defensive numbers to improve, but in my opinion, I don't think this roster, as currently constructed, is capable of making that much of an improvement from last year's numbers. Until some changes are made to the roster in the future, this team has to find itself offensively. That's how they won games a year ago and it appears that it's how they will have to compete this year as well.
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