8. Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets are coming off of a 48-win season. They arguably could have been higher on this list. However, they make the top-8, which is a tier they belong in.
The Hornets retain their centerpiece, Kemba Walker, and rewarded Nic Batum with a large contract in the offseason. However, it’s worth mentioning what Charlotte lost. The Hornets saw their sixth man depart when Jeremy Lin joined the Brooklyn Nets. They also lost big man Al Jefferson to the Indiana Pacers. How will Charlotte replace their key losses?
The Hornets still have plenty of talent, and ascending talent at that, which is why they’re in the top 8. But it seems like it will be a tough task for the Hornets to duplicate their success from a year ago.
The Hornets should be able to make the playoffs once again. Walker is a terrific young player, who Charlotte has rightly chosen to build around. But it may be unfair to expect this team to win 48+ games once again in 2016-17.
Outside of Walker, the development of Frank Kominsky will be worth watching. Roy Hibbert also re-established some personal value after a stint with the Lakers, and will now look to fill Jefferson’s shoes in Charlotte.
Next: No. 7