It’s buzzing in Buzz City right now after the Charlotte Hornets won four games in a row to improve to 6-5 on the season thanks to leading scorer Gordon Hayward, who is putting up All-Star numbers. Plus, the #3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, LaMelo Ball, lived up to the hype and the rookie emerged as a force off the bench as a bona fide playmaker.
It’s only a small sample off 11 games, but if the season were to end right now, the Charlotte Hornets would secure the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Head coach James Borrego seeks his first winning season and a playoff berth in his third full year with the Hornets. During his first full season in 2018-19, the Hornets went 39-43 and finished in second place in the Southeast division, but bubbled the playoffs.
Coming into this season, oddmakers pegged the Hornets as the worst team in the Southeast with -3300 odds to win the division according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. With a 6-5 record, the Hornets are tied for first place in the division with the revitalized Orlando Magic.
Gordon Hayward New Home with Charlotte Hornets
Many fans were scratching their heads during the offseason when Gordon Hayward signed a lucrative four-year contract worth a whopping $120 million. Hayward struggled with injuries during his short stint with the Boston Celtics, so whomever signed him would be rolling the dice.
However, ever since Hayward joined Charlotte, he looks more like the guy who was an All-Star with the Utah Jazz and less like a hobbled member of the Celtics. Hayward leads the Hornets averaging 22.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Hayward also knocks down 50.3% of his 3-point shots.
The Hornets winning streak coincided with a career-high 44-point game from Hayward against the Atlanta Hawks last Wednesday night. He joked that he never scored that many points in high school, let alone in college.
“I was proud of Gordy,” Borrego said in the post-game press conference. “He understood we needed pressure taken off our offense tonight, and he took the pressure.”
Since the 44-point explosion, the Hornets knocked off the Atlanta Hawks twice, along with the New Orleans Pelicans and the new-look New York Knicks.
Buzz City Babies: LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges
Veteran guard Terry Rozier has been the heart of the Hornets ever since Kemba Walker bolted to Boston in free agency two seasons ago. Rozier is Charlotte’s second leading scorer averaging 19.5 ppg. Rozier also provides the Hornets with precise sharpshooting with 43.5% accuracy from 3-point land.
LaMelo Ball averages 25.3 minutes per game off the bench averaging 12.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. He’s an integral part of the second unit that also includes small forward Miles Bridges (9.5 ppg, 5.2 rebounds), who knocks down 46.5% of his shots from the floor. Ball recently made NBA history as the youngest player to record a triple-double.
Ball is a throwback playmaker that looks to pass first and set up his teammates before looking to score himself. It’s easy when Charlotte has perimeter snipers like Rozier and Hayward. Ball a tick behind Devonte’ Graham (6.5 assists) as Charlotte’s assist leader.
“If you’re not paying attention, LaMelo could knock you in the back of the head with some of his passes,” joked starting forward PJ Washington.
LaMelo’s father, LaVar Ball played pro football before he decided to raise a trio of basketball prodigies. LaMelo showed off his quarterback skills against the Knicks with a perfect outlet missile to Gordon Hayward.
LaMelo must have been watching the NFL playoffs yesterday
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) January 12, 2021
On Deck for Hornets: Luka, Unicorn, and Dallas Mavericks
The Hornets are in action this evening against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis makes his season debut with the Mavs after missing the first nine games of the season while recovering from knee surgery. The Hornets come into the Mavs game as a +4.5 home dog.
The under hit in eight of 11 games this year for the Hornets. During their four-game winning streak, the Hornets are also 4-0 ATS.
|CHARLOTTE HORNETS SCHEDULE|
- WED 1/13/21 vs Dallas Mavericks (5-4)
- THU 1/14/21 at Toronto Raptors (2-8)
- SAT 1/16/21 at Toronto Raptors (2-8)
The Hornets play back-to-back games with an away game against the struggling Toronto Raptors (2-8) on Wednesday. The Raptors now play their home games in Tampa Bay, so it’s a short flight from Charlotte. The Hornets will remain in Tampa until Saturday when they meet for a second time in three nights. The Raptors/Hornets game on Saturday will appear on NBATV at 4:30pm PT.