The Hornets are officially out of the Kemba Walker era and have presumably started a rebuilding process. The Hornets are pretty lacking in talent and will most likely end up at the bottom of the east. They lost another important starter from last season as well with Jeremy Lamb’s departure. The Hornets have been aimless for a long time, straddling the line between rebuilding and staying competitive. With the loss of their only star in Walker, it’s almost certain that they’ll have to rebuild, as the chance their current squad can remain competitive is extremely unlikely. Here are three big questions about their starting lineup going into this season.
How Much of Kemba Walker’s Production Can Terry Rozier Replace?
This offseason, The Hornets did a sign and trade with the Celtics, giving away Kemba Walker in exchange for Terry Rozier, who they then inked to a 3 year, $58 million contract. Rozier has shown flashes but has really only had one consistently good stretch in his career. That was his admittedly very impressive 2018 playoff performance, where he showed starter potential. However, he struggled in a bench role this season, shooting under 40 percent from the field. The Hornets are banking on the potential he’s showcased, likely hoping he can become their point guard for the future. Unfortunately, even if Rozier significantly improves from last season’s averages, he likely won’t come close to filling in the void left by Kemba Walker. At times, it felt like Kemba was the only source of offense last year, and Rozier likely isn’t good enough to handle the tremendous load Walker had to carry last year.
Which Player will Take Jeremy Lamb’s Starting Spot?
Kemba Walker’s departure hurts the most, but the loss of Lamb is also detrimental. The Hornets took a gamble on Lamb after a rough start to his career in Oklahoma City, and he ended up blossoming in Charlotte. That’s why it’s disappointing to see him leave seemingly right after he took a big step forward. At 27, the Hornets had the chance to lock him up for his prime, but he departed for Indiana instead. Still, the Hornets need to find a replacement for him in their starting lineup. Unlike with Kemba Walker, the Hornets didn’t add anyone in free agency so there won’t be any outside help coming to replace Lamb. It’s likely they’ll have to find somebody already on their team or from their draft class to do so. Right now, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, and PJ Washington would seem to be the most likely candidates.
Is this the Worst Starting Lineup in the League?
Barring a shocking development, the Hornets are going to stink next season, plain and simple. Even with Walker and Lamb last season, this was still one of the lesser talented teams in the league. Without them, they might have the strongest case to be the worst starting lineup in the league. Every other candidate at least has one proven player that can most likely carry the team for short bursts. Cleveland has Kevin Love, the Wizards have Bradley Beal, and even the Knicks have Julius Randle. The closest thing to those players that the Hornets have is Terry Rozier, who has never shot over 40 percent from the field in his career. The Hornets might not want to admit it, but this has all the pieces of a tanking team that will likely be in contention for the worst record in the league. Even in the relatively weak southwest division, the Hornets will be hard pressed to make any noise.