Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Previewing a horrible Southeast division

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Charlotte Hornets

Key Arrivals: Terry Rozier, PJ Washington

Key Departures: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb,

After not being offered a maximum contract, Kemba Walker decided to leave for the Boston Celtics. In order to prevent losing him for nothing, he was traded to Boston in a sign-and-trade where the Hornets received back Terry Rozier. It was a deal that had all the balance of a drunk baby deer trying to walk.

Rozier, meanwhile, was inked to a three-year $58 million contract. Here are some better ideas for Michael Jordan to spend $58 million, rather than giving it to Terry Rozier: spending the money to a good player, donating it all to charity, or paying a tech developer to remove the image of your crying face from the internet.

Offensive outlook

The past few seasons, Kemba Walker carried this offense on his back. He ran the most pick-and-rolls of any player last year, posted a usage rate of 30.8 (higher than Kawhi Leonard), and often times, was relied upon as the team’s bailout option. They also lost Jeremy Lamb, the team’s number two option. Good luck guessing where those points are coming from this season.

Expect a lot of Terry Rozier, a lot of Nicholas Batum (yes he still is in the league. thanks, for asking), and maybe some force-fed shots to a talented but too young Miles Bridges.

Things will be ugly for the Hornets offensively as the team will almost certainly finish in the bottom-five and might very well be the worst offensive team in the NBA.

Defensive outlook

If Charlotte has any hopes for a mediocre, rather than horrible, season, it’ll be from a defensive end of the floor. They ranked 23rd in defensive rating last season and have the potential to be of similar, if not better, quality this year.

Their starting five includes five solid defenders. They subbed out their weakest defensive link, Walker, for an above-average guy in Rozier. If they’re motivated throughout the season (that becomes difficult when you’re in the clear lottery), Charlotte’s defense should find a way to rank in the top 2/3rds of the league. That might not sound like much, but after watching their offense, it’ll feel like the ’86 Boston Celtics.

Projected outlook: 20-62

The Hornets are going to be bad this year. But the more concerning part might be their lack of young talent. Unless you’re a Malik Monk believer — and anyone other than his immediate family probably isn’t –, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges are the only players with even reasonable upside.

Sorry Hornet fans, at least you’ll have the draft.