In an otherwise abnormal offseason, the Charlotte Hornets remained relatively quiet. They return their core from last season, adding a few new pieces, but nothing too drastic. In the NBA Draft, the Hornets got lucky when guard Malik Monk fell to them at the 11th pick. The other piece of business that the Hornets did during the offseason was the acquisition of former All-Star center Dwight Howard from the Atlanta Hawks. Last season, the Hornets posted a 36-46 record, which slotted them at 12th in the Eastern Conference and five games out of making the playoffs. They will look to improve this record this season to get at least the eighth seed in next year’s playoffs.
The Hornets only have two games in store for the first week of the season. They start the season heading up north to Detroit to play the Pistons on Wednesday. The Pistons are not expected to contend for anything this season. The Hornets then host the Atlanta Hawks, Howard’s former team, for their home opener on Friday night.
CAN’T MISS GAME
The Hornets open the season against two teams that will not be competing for the postseason, but a home opener is always an exciting game to watch. Howard will look to prove both his former teammates and his doubters wrong with a breakout game against his old team in his new hometown.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Howard will be the one to watch during this first week of the season. After leaving the Magic in 2011 for the bright lights of LA, Howard has been a shell of his former self, lasting only one season with the Lakers, having a long but tumultuous stay in Houston, and attempting a return to former glory in his hometown Atlanta last season. Everywhere Howard goes, he leaves with a worse reputation than he came with. Howard will split time with Cody Zeller at the center position this season, so there will not be as much pressure on him to perform at an All-Star level. However, only time will tell if Howard’s ego will allow him to play in a more limited role.
The Charlotte Hornets should be able to produce a clean sweep in the first week of the season. Both opponents this week aren’t any particular threat to anyone in the Eastern Conference. In the first game of the season, point guard Kemba Walker should be able to take advantage of his matchup and have a 20 point game. If the Pistons switch elite defender Avery Bradley onto Walker, this action will free up either Monk or Jeremy Lamb at the shooting guard position. The Hornets should be able to win this game easily. Speaking of easy wins, the Atlanta Hawks are on the fast track to a top-3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The team looks prime for tanking. And if the Hawks are as hapless as they look, the Hornets should have no problem running the tables against them.
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