Man, the Charlotte Hornets are fun to watch! But before we deep dive into Charlotte, let’s see how the East looks like now. The Philadelphia 76ers are still top with a 18-7 record followed by the Milwaukee Bucks who seemed to have read my piece from last week, at 16-9. But after that? Absolute turmoil. The Nets have gone a 1-3 run while the Celtics are one loss away from being .500 at the time of writing while the Pacers have fallen below .500. It is anyone’s ballgame out East and teams like the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors seem to be turning it up at the right time. But in this week’s spotlight, it is the fun and fast-paced Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets are now sitting at 12-14, the 7th seed in the East which is better than most expectations. I’ve watched this team more than any other this season so far, with the exception of the Knicks and the Nets, and I can say for sure they are a team you want to keep your eye on and flip over to them on League Pass. The Hornets are a fast-paced team that keeps the ball moving and can hurt their opponents both from beyond the arc and in the paint. Their star, Gordon Hayward, is having an All-Star caliber season and is looking more like the Utah Jazz Hayward. He is contributing across the board with 22.6 points a game on the season with 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists as well as a steal game. All of that while shooting nearly 50% from the field and 42.6% from 3. This production will continue for Hayward as he is the number one option. He got paid the big bucks so it is only right that he will continue to prove why. Then, you’ve got the no doubt future Rookie of the Year in LaMelo Ball. This guy is absolutely special and will be a problem in this league for years to come. If he is this good right now, imagine in five years’ time. Absolutely crazy. He plays at a high tempo and is already one of the best passers in the league while also having improved his shot. And of course, you can’t forget that you’ll see at least two lob passes a game from him. On the season he is averaging 14.3 points with 5.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists as well as 1.4 steals. They’ve also got excellent young players besides LaMelo, in PJ Washington and Miles Bridges. PJ has fallen into a mini-slump recently, but he has the tools to break out as his shooting has gotten better, is excellent on the glass, and can get you defensive stats. Miles on the other hand, has been on a tear lately, putting up three double-doubles in a row. They also have good veterans like Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo to teach the young guys while having guys like Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham at the height of their games. Both are good sources of points and threes and from time to time assists as well. Overall, the Hornets seemed poised to have a good year and battle for a playoff spot.
Best Performers of The Week:
- LaMelo Ball: This guy is an absolute star. I don’t think anyone expected him to be this good so soon. But hey, I’m not complaining. He is so fun to watch in a fast-paced Charlotte Hornets team. Over the last four games, LaMelo has posted averages of 23.5 points with 5 rebounds and 7 assists as well as 1.5 steals. The rookie has been absolutely phenomenal and I don’t think this production will dip even when Devonte’ Graham comes back. Ball is the future and Charlotte would be crazy to stop running through him and keeping him in the top three options between him, Hayward, Rozier and the rest.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: The 2x MVP and the Bucks clearly read my article from last week, turning it up even though they lost a heartbreaker to the Suns on Wednesday night. We saw an average of 33.5 points with 10.75 rebounds and 3.5 assists from Giannis in the Bucks’ last four games. Giannis is continuing to be the monster we all know and love and this should not let up, even if the Bucks get in a slump. He’ll also have to continue picking up some of Jrue Holiday’s slack while he is out due to the Health & Safety Protocols.
- Zach LaVine: What a monster he’s been this past week huh? LaVine has been on a scoring rampage, pouring in 35 points or more in his last three games while handing out about five assists and being reliable on the boards. He also absolutely willed the Bulls to a victory over the Pelicans this past Wednesday night. LaVine is the man in Chicago and games like these will not stop. It is not his average, however, but you know Lavine can break out on any given night. He is just that talented.
Waiver Wire Adds
- Kevin Love: The Cleveland Cavaliers forward has only played like one or two games this season, but he seems close to a return so it is time for him to return to our watchlists if the owner in your league got impatient or was hammered with injuries and dropped K-Love. Even though he is a huge risk, being that he could come back play a week or two and then be out again for another month or something, I believe he is worth potentially picking him up and trying to trade after he puts together a string of good games. Love can score at a good rate and grab rebounds while being solid from the line and decent in field goal percentage.
- Josh Jackson: Detroit has now traded Derrick Rose to New York for Dennis Smith Jr. This would mean fewer chances for our guy Jackson here, but au contraire, I think this is good. The healthy guards in Detroit right now are DSJ, Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Saben Lee but he never really plays. Jackson has had minutes both at the 2 and the 3 and has averaged around 30 minutes a game in the last three contests. A very promising trend for the former lottery pick who is trying to get his career back on track. Keep your eye on Jackson if you need some points, rebounds, and a couple of steals here and there.
- Terrence Ross: The Magic continue to be hammered by injuries. The latest on their injury report is Cole Anthony with a day to day shoulder injury and Evan Fournier with back spasms again. With Anthony, Fultz and Fournier gone now, T-Ross seems poised to step up as he will have to. Vucevic can’t do all the scoring. Right? Ross doesn’t do much except score and rebound, but with that, he can contribute with threes as well. He is a very volatile player though. Sometimes he may be great and others not so much. So pick up with caution.
Things in the East are heating up and for all and in two weeks’ time everything may look completely different. It will be interesting to see how the Celtics and Pacers move forward and if the Heat and Raptors will continue their upward trajectory. The play-in spots are also up for grabs between many teams like the New York Knicks, who have lost crucial games to the Heat giving up space in a very tight race which also sees Cleveland, Chicago, and Atlanta hoping for the best. I’ll be back next week so until then good luck on your pickups and matchups! See ya!