What will the Charlotte Hornets starting five and rotation look like in 2022-23? Great question. There’s still a lot of time for GM Mitch Kupchak to make roster moves but for now, this is how I see things shaking out.
Starting Five – PG LaMelo Ball, SG Terry Rozier, SF Gordon Hayward, PF PJ Washington, C Mason Plumlee
We’re not going to make any assumptions about what the Hornets will do, so since Miles Bridges is not signed at the moment, we’re going to leave him off the roster. With Bridges out, PJ Washington slides into the starting four spot. The rest of the starting five remains the same. Yes, Plumlee will start over 1st round pick Mark Williams to begin the season. There might come a point in time where Williams overthrows the veteran for the starting center spot but it won’t happen early in the year.
bench – SG Cody Martin, SG James Bouknight, G/F Bryce McGowens, SF Kelly Oubre Jr., F JT Thor, F Jalen McDaniels, PF Kai Jones, C Mark Williams, C Nick Richards
Despite not adding any outside pieces in free agency, the Hornets’ bench is pretty strong. I’m sure Steve Clifford would feel much better about having a true backup point but other than that, there’s not much to be concerned about. There’s a healthy balance of options in the frontcourt, backcourt, and on the wing. Increased opportunities for youngsters will be there and playing against NBA talent rather than being in the G-League will be the next test of their development.
PG: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier
Unless Kupchak brings back Kemba Walker on a team-friendly deal or another veteran is added to the mix, it looks as if Rozier will once again be filling in at point when LaMelo needs a rest. He’s certainly capable, but he would greatly increase the efficiency of Rozier if he remained off-ball.
SG: Terry Rozier, Cody Martin, James Bouknight, Bryce McGowens
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Cody Martin is going to become a favorite of Steve Clifford’s due to the emphasis he places on the defensive end of the floor. Bouknight should remain with the big league club in 2022-23 but will have limited minutes early on as he works his way back from a hand injury. Martin is way ahead of Bouknight at the moment. Second round pick Bryce McGowens will bounce back and forth between Greensboro and Charlotte as a rookie but when he’s up with the Hornets, he’ll see some action at the two and three spots.
SF: Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr., JT Thor, Bryce McGowens
Establishing depth here is important given the injury history of Gordon Hayward. Behind Kelly Oubre Jr., the Hornets really need to see JT Thor take his game to the next level. He played a ton of minutes at the three in Summer League, which leads me to believe they see him as the third option behind Hayward and Oubre.
PF: PJ Washington, Jalen McDaniels, Kai Jones
With Washington sliding into the starting five, Jalen McDaniels fills in to his old role as the backup. Kai Jones could play his way into legitimate minutes as the season progresses but McDaniels will have the advantage to begin the year.
C: Mason Plumlee, Mark Williams, Nick Richards
I could see Clifford giving Richards more minutes than Williams to start out, solely based on the maturity of his body and knowledge of the NBA game. That said, Williams is the most talented player and Kupchak made it clear after he fired James Borrego that he wants to see his young guys play.
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