Future Odds (BetOnline)
Southeast Division Odds (+2500)
Eastern Conference Odds (+15000)
NBA Championship Odds (+50000)
Win Total Odds (23.5)
Lack of Star Power
Last season the Hornets weren’t bad with Walker leading the way and playing like a top 10 player. They were 13th in offensive efficiency, averaging 111.4 points per 100 possessions, but they gave up 112.5 points per 100 possessions, which ranked 22nd in the league.
Now without Walker, the defense sure isn’t getting any better and the offense is probably going to take a huge hit.
The addition of Terry Rozier is going to help the sting of losing Walker, but Rozier isn’t even close to the ability of Walker and some argue that Rozier may not even be replacement level. This season will go a long way in deciding that.
Outside of Rozier, the Hornets do have some nice young players. Malik Monk will have to take on a bigger role now with Walker out of town and Miles Bridges may be the closest thing this team has now to a star in the making. Who knows, Bridges could have a huge breakout year and the Hornets are fine, but that probably won’t be what happens.
When the Hornets low-balled Walker, I like to think they knew what they were doing. They were sick of being a middle of the road team and getting nowhere in today’s NBA. Unfortunately, most small markets teams need to tank some in order to gain top picks and even if Bridges averages 20 points per game this season, the Hornets will still need to tank eventually.
The East has gotten better this offseason and I doubt the Hornets will compete in their division, let alone the entire conference.
The better play for this team is to eventually throw in the towel on the year. They probably won’t do it obviously from the start, but by December or January, the Hornets might go on a selling spree.
Nicolas Batum could be shipped out if he stays healthy and returns to form this season. Even though his contract is pretty big, Batum could be a viable asset if he is healthy and has a bounce back season.
Marvin Williams and Bismack Biyombo are both on expiring deals, as is Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. All three of those guys could be traded for spare parts by the deadline.
By the All Star Break, it would not surprise me to see this team either trade or shut down their veterans and try to tank for the number one pick. Even though their season win total looks high, there are better under values at this point of the offseason.