Charlotte Hornets fantasy basketball season recap

Previous team recaps: DET, WAS, POR

At a glance:

Record: 21-61 (13th, East) 

Offensive Rating: 108.6 (28th)

Defensive Rating: 119.2 (29th) 

Net Rating: -10.6 (30th) 

Pace: 97.82 (22nd) 

2024 Draft Picks: 6, 42

After a poor 2022-23 season, expectations were a little higher in Charlotte this season. Miles Bridges was back in the lineup following a 10-game suspension to open the season, and they added Brandon Miller with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Mark Williams showed promise as a rookie, LaMelo Ball was back healthy, and they still had veterans like Terry Rozier, PJ Washington and Gordon Hayward, which gave them a solid rotation. They made the Play-In Tournament in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, so they should be able to get back there. Right?

Well, not exactly. Just about everything that could have gone wrong, did. LaMelo played just 22 games, while Williams was only able to suit up 19 times. They ended up trading Rozier to Miami, Hayward to OKC and Washington to Dallas because the veterans were wasting away on a tanking team once again. They ended up finishing with six fewer wins than they did the year before, but instead of jumping up in the lottery, they fell three spots to the sixth pick.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. Miller was one of the best rookies in the league, Bridges’ production was similar to his numbers from before last season, and they were able to get a look at players like Grant Williams, Nick Richards, Tre Mann and Vasilije Micic that should be part of their rotation moving forward. They’ll get a chance to add another piece in the lottery, which should give them an intriguing young core to pair with first year head coach Charles Lee. If this team can stay healthy, they should be far more competitive than they have been the past two seasons.

Fantasy Standout: Miles Bridges 

Bridges went unsigned following an excellent 2021-22 campaign despite being in line for a big payday due to domestic abuse allegations. It was a strange decision from the league, but after he signed a one-year deal to return to Charlotte for this past season, the NBA deemed his one-year absence plus a 10-game suspension as an appropriate punishment.

Regardless of his off-court issues, Bridges was able to be effective for Charlotte this season. He averaged career-highs of 21.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 triples per game, while also dishing out 3.3 assists and nearly adding a steal per game. He took a career-high 17.5 shots per game, which resulted in his field goal percentage dropping to 46.2%.

There were rumors at the trade deadline that the Suns had interest in trading for Bridges, but he reportedly refused to waive his no trade clause. His priority is clearly getting paid, and Charlotte offers the best chance for that to happen. However, he is set to enter unrestricted free agency, so there is a chance that he plays elsewhere next season. The best situation for him in fantasy is to return to Charlotte, where he has been a top-75 player in his last two full seasons while missing just 15 games, with 10 of those coming via suspension. He was the only player on the team to provide top-100 value and play more than 25 games, and there is no reason to think that won’t continue if he re-signs with the Hornets.

Fantasy Revelation: Brandon Miller

Charlotte selected Miller with the second pick in a loaded 2023 draft despite most sources ranking Scoot Henderson as the No. 2 player in the class. Still, after one season, the Hornets seem to have made the right decision. In 74 games, Miller averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.5 triples per game while shooting 44% from the field and 82.7% from the free throw line. He got off to a quick start and was able to contribute strong value the entire season, despite LaMelo barely being available to facilitate the offense.

He didn’t finish inside the top-100, though that isn’t uncommon for rookies. Miller showed plenty of flashes, and he was able to contribute value across the board, which makes him an excellent fit for category leagues. His shooting percentages will rise with LaMelo on the floor getting him easy looks, along with him improving as he logs more games. He finished his first year on a high note by scoring at least 20 points in seven of his final 10 games, which also included two 30-point games. Miller has consistently compared his game to Paul George, and if he can even sniff PG’s peak, he’s going to be a fantasy superstar for a long time.

Fantasy Disappointment: LaMelo Ball 

When he was on the court, LaMelo didn’t have many issues being effective. Unfortunately, when you only play 22 games after being at the turn from the first round to the second, it’s hard to be classified as anything but a bust. After playing the first 15 games of the season, Ball missed nearly two months before returning for seven games in January. After that, he was sidelined for the rest of the season.

Charlotte’s injury reporting was a massive headache for fantasy managers, since they hardly ever provided clear injury timelines for Ball or Mark Williams. Still, despite the small sample size, LaMelo did average career-highs for points (23.9) and steals (1.8). He’s still young, and he is more than capable of being one of the premier players in fantasy basketball. However, since playing 75 games in his second season, he has only played in 58 games over their last two. His ADP will slip next year, which could end up making him an excellent value pick.

Fantasy Recaps/Look-Aheads 

Mark Williams:

After showing flashes during his rookie season, the expectations for Williams entering year two were high. He started off well, playing in 19 of their first 20 games and averaging 12.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 64.9% from the line. However, following their matchup with Toronto on December 8th, Williams didn’t suit up again. He missed their final 62 games of the year, and the team never officially ruled him out for the season. That was certainly frustrating for fantasy managers, so hopefully his back will be fully healed to start next season. As long as that isn’t lingering to start the year, Williams should be a strong center option in the middle rounds.

Nick Richards:

With Williams sidelined for most of the year, Richards ended up starting 51 games and averaging 10.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. He isn’t a fantasy star by any means, but he was able to contribute solid center numbers while filling in as the starter down low. Williams has only played 62 games through his first two seasons, and if that trend continues, Richards should see time as a player that will be worth streaming. However, his upside is virtually nonexistent, and if they draft a center with the sixth pick (such as Donovan Clingan), Richards will lose practically all of his value. He isn’t a player worth drafting, but if he enters the year as the team’s primary backup big, he will be worth keeping an eye on.

Tre Mann:

After spending the first two and a half years of his career with the Thunder, Mann was dealt to Charlotte as part of the trade that sent Gordon Hayward to OKC. Mann had fallen out of the rotation in Oklahoma City, but he was quickly able to see a large role with the Hornets. In 28 games, he averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 triples in 31 minutes per game. He was known as a shot-chucker off the bench with OKC, but he showcased elite steal numbers and improved playmaking after the trade. Mann will likely return to a bench role with LaMelo Ball healthy, but he is only 23 and he was able to show that he is worth keeping around. He won’t be worth drafting in standard leagues, but if LaMelo goes down, he could end up taking on extra minutes and be worth streaming. However, there likely isn’t a path to 12-team value without an injury in front of him.

Grant Williams:

Williams signed with the Mavericks last summer, but his tenure with the team didn’t last a full season, as they ended up dealing him to the Hornets for PJ Washington. Williams was a solid depth piece for Boston, but he was disappointing as a starter with Dallas. However, in 29 games with Charlotte, he averaged 13.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 triples while shooting 50.3% from the floor. He saw some starts at center when Richards was out of the lineup, but he will likely be the team’s backup power forward when their lineup is fully healthy. Williams has proven that he can be a reliable rotation piece, but he doesn’t hold much value in fantasy basketball. Even when he has started, the numbers haven’t popped. He will try and find success while playing in his hometown, but managers shouldn’t expect a statistical leap out of him.

Vasilije Micic:

Micic was drafted with the 52nd pick back in 2014 by the 76ers, but he remained in Europe to continue his professional playing career. His rights were traded to the Thunder as part of the Al Horford deal in 2020, and he ended up signing with OKC in 2023. The 30-year-old rookie played a minor role for the Thunder, but he ended up playing a significant role for Charlotte following a move at the trade deadline. He started 21 games for the Hornets and averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.2 triples per game. He also recorded four double-doubles, which included him dishing out 13 assists in one game in March. He isn’t going to be worth drafting, but if LaMelo faces injuries next season, Micic could be a serviceable streaming option.

Early Termination Option: Davis Bertans

Team Option: JT Thor

Unrestricted Free Agents: Miles Bridges

Restricted Free Agents: Amari Bailey