Second opponent: The Hornets
Fading into obscurity since their last playoff appearance in 2016, the Charlotte Hornets’ next few years are pivotal in building a competitive roster around top-star LaMelo Ball, who finalized his five-year, $260 million contract extension in July.
The organization used their second overall draft pick in this year’s draft to select Alabama’s Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson: a decision that has worked favorably at the start of the season given the forward’s 17 points-per-game and ability to collect boards on both ends of the floor.
Charlotte was the victim of a third consecutive Cam Thomas masterclass when he and the Nets condemned the Hornets to back-to-back defeats on Monday. Most notably, their 1-on-1 defending continues to hinder them as they have indicated early in the season that they have a frailty in coping with athletic dribblers who can drive to the basket. In the uninspiring defeat at home to Brooklyn, the Hornets conceded 28 points off of fast breaks which was attributed to “poor shot selection” by Clifford.
The always-innovative Ball continues to add dynamism to the Hornets and has had a promising start to the campaign from a playmaking perspective, yet his shooting woes have haunted them early on. Field goal percentages of 25%, 24% and 27% in the opening three games signify the need for further offensive development to be achieved if Clifford’s men are to have a glimmer of hope of making a play-in charge in the East this season. The former Rookie of the Year did shoot the ball considerably better in the preseason and has shot 42.5% overall in his three NBA seasons. So a bounce-back is coming.
Though the Hornets are talented, they are also young, raw and unproven. The ceiling is high for the revamped Hornets franchise, but the prospect of being a force that could compete for this silverware would appear to be several years away.
The Heat travel to the Spectrum Center on Tuesday, Nov. 14 for a road match they will seemingly have to win before they close out against the much stronger Knicks and Bucks.