22 games into the Hornets season and many fans have expressed surprise about the team getting 8 early season wins thus far. I was one of many that expected this team to be bad, I mean real bad, like 20 wins bad. This got me thinking, was I this far off with my estimate as they are currently on a 31 win pace? Are they actually a more talented roster that we all thought? I decided to look at some numbers and really break down what we have been witnessing thus far this season. I think what I have found is quite interesting, and also troubling for those of us who hope to grab a high pick this year.
ARE THE HORNETS BAD?
Short answer, YES. The stats are horrendous folks. While we have seen Devonte Graham break out as one of the leaders for Most Improved Player, and P.J. Washington open many eyes with his break out start to his NBA career, the team as a whole is putting up terrible stats. Some of the Lowlights include.
- 22nd in Offensive Rating 105.7
- 29th in Defensive Rating 114.1
- 27th in Net Rating -8.4
- 27th in Rebounding
- 23rd in Turnovers
- 25th in Pace
- 30th in Opponents Field Goal %
In any other season those stats would make more sense if paired with a team struggling to win any games at all, not one currently in 9th in the East and 1.5 games out of the playoffs. The Hornets have more wins than 10 teams in the league and are tied with 5 other teams at 8! This team against current play-off teams has been horrible, thus far they are 1-10 and are losing by an average of 18 points. Their lone win was a tight home win against the Pacers, who were missing 3 starters. Clearly this team is what I thought they would be, a young team who would struggle to defend and go through droughts on the offensive end. So why are they looking like they will end up with the 11th pick again?
The reason the Hornets look a bit better in the standings then they do statistically is simple, the league is littered with REALLY, REALLY BAD TEAMS. We all knew the Knicks were gonna be a train wreck and that the young Grizzlies would struggle. There is always a small group of bottom dwellers that are in the 18-22 win range. I went back over the last 6 seasons to illustrate my point. And I understand we are only 22 games in, but the trend is alarming, especially for a team hunting for a top 5 pick. I broke teams into 3 levels.
- Play-off teams .500 and above
- play-off hopefuls (37 wins)
- Bad teams below (29 wins and below)
The averages for the last 6 years give us a good idea how the league usually breaks down.
- 17 playoff teams
- 21 playoff hopefuls
- 6 bad teams
Currently in the NBA it breaks down like this
- 14 playoff teams
- 15 playoff hopefuls
- 10 bad teams
So many teams are bad this year that only half the league is on pace for more than 37 wins, the previous low in the last six seasons is 19. Those extra 4 teams create the massive group of mediocre to bad teams that the Hornets are a part of right now. No one saw the Warriors only having 4 wins so far this season, but it is teams like the Blazers and Spurs that have really struggled early, and young teams like the Hawks and Kings that have not taken that next step that we thought they would, that have thrown the balance out of whack. As a Hornets fan the idea of this weird season leading to this really bad team getting a pick outside of the top 5 is not ideal, but unless some of these teams start stacking up some wins its a very real possibility.