The Charlotte Hornets have had a busy offseason, and the result is an improved roster. Here’s how the team’s signings graded out across the board.
The Charlotte Hornets have been busy this offseason, signing a number of free agents. Here are the grades for every signing that has happened so far. Read more in detail here: nba free agent.
The Charlotte Hornets signed swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. and veteran guard Ish Smith as free agents in order to bolster their squad with LaMelo Ball at the center.
While they seem to be good additions, the Hornets might have done a lot better in addressing the gap at their guard positions. Nonetheless, these new acquisitions have a lot of value and will undoubtedly help Charlotte’s rebuilding process.
With that in mind, let’s evaluate the team’s two free agent acquisitions.
B+ for Kelly Oubre Jr.
Kelly Oubre Jr. has an opportunity to bounce back with the Hornets after a disappointing season with the Golden State Warriors. With the Warriors, he was wildly inconsistent, suffering hard in the opening few games of the 2020-21 season. It’s a good thing he was able to find his rhythm later on, since his worth was mostly preserved.
Oubre Jr.’s cutting and rebounding skills will be valuable to the Hornets. Last season, he averaged 15.4 points and 6.0 rebounds. His primary strength seems to be rebounding, as he was rated sixth among small forwards in this category.
It’s tough to say if the Hornets were successful in luring Oubre away from the market. Devonte’ Graham (through sign-and-trade) and Malik Monk’s departures may have prompted them to rush to add depth to the backcourt.
However, with the presence of Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges on the Hornets’ roster, Oubre may be forced to play a backup role. Warriors fans can testify to the fact that Oubre Jr. does not feel comfortable coming off the bench at this stage in his career, which is why he did not pursue a re-signing with the team.
When he signed that two-year, $26 million contract, the veteran swingman was most certainly aware of the predicament. However, once the season starts, it’s impossible to know. It’s possible that a fight for the starting wing positions may break out.
B, Ish Smith
The Hornets’ signing of veteran Ish Smith was clearly an attempt to fill the hole at point guard. Smith, 33, will essentially serve as LaMelo Ball’s backup guard, a position he has held for the majority of his 11-year NBA career. He’s a good playmaker with a career average of 3.9 assists per game. It’s fair to assume that if you’ve been in the league for that long, you know how to play the game.
Apart from directing the attack while Ball is on the bench, Smith will also serve as a mentor to the rookie guard as well as the rest of the squad. Bismack Biyombo and Gordon Hayward, for example, have done an excellent job mentoring Ball. Smith will be able to communicate with Melo since he is a point guard himself. This is an important step in the rebuilding process, and the Hornets’ front management was wise to sign the 33-year-old.
The main concern with this signing is Smith’s long-term commitment to the club. A year of consistent mentoring is beneficial. It’s even better if you can get two or three seasons out of it. The Hornets have enough budget room to sign Avery Bradley, Austin Rivers, and perhaps even Elfrid Payton as unrestricted free agents. This would have also given them the backcourt depth they sorely need.
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