Regular-season grades for every Charlotte Hornets player

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The Charlotte Hornets had one of the more interesting seasons in the league. Coming into the year with low expectations despite drafting LaMelo Ball third overall and signing Gordon Hayward, the Hornets burst onto the scene as one of the most surprising and fun teams of the league.

However, as injuries piled up later in the season to key players, the Hornets slowly slipped down the Eastern Conference standings and into the play-in game, where they were unceremoniously sent home by the Pacers.

Looking back at the season, here are individual player grades for each Hornet.

The Non-LaMelo Rookies: Incomplete

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This grouping consists of Nate Darling, Grant Riller, Nick Richards and Vernon Carey, who saw virtually no minutes outside of garbage time, save for a brief stretch by Carey. Darling, Riller and Richards played less than 65 minutes on the season. Carey played 115 minutes with half of those coming in a four-game stretch that saw him start and score 21 points against the Nets in mid-April. Carey's minutes quickly dwindled after that game and none of the players made an impact down the stretch.

Brad Wanamaker: B

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A midseason trade acquisition, Brad Wanamaker had a much bigger role than anyone likely anticipated, but he excelled. From April 1 until May 9, a span of 22 games, Wanamaker played in 21 and averaged 20.2 minutes. The Hornets needed Wanamaker and while he has limited skills, he was productive in his minutes.

Malik Monk: A-

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Malik Monk entered a prove-it year with the Hornets and more than proved himself. After three underwhelming seasons, Monk showed the potential that made him the No. 11 pick. After missing much of the first 17 games, Monk found his way into the rotation against the Pacers on Jan. 27 and only left it again due to injury. His 36 points in Miami on Feb. 1 was the highlight of his season. From Jan. 30 until March 26, he averaged 15.3 points in 25 games off the bench. Unfortunately, like many other Hornets this season, his year was derailed by injury. After spraining his ankle against Brooklyn, Monk missed a month and never looked like himself in the final 10 games of the season. But the preceding stretch of play was the best of his career and will lead to some questions for Charlotte this offseason.

Gordon Hayward: B+

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When Gordon Hayward was on the court, he lived up to the huge contract given to him by the Hornets. He had a strong case to be an All-Star by the midway point of the season. However, as has often been the case in his career, Hayward was sidelined by injuries throughout the year before going down on April 2 and never returning. Availability is the best ability and Hayward was not available when the Hornets needed him most. It wasn't something he could control, but it's still a knock.

Jalen McDaniels: B+

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Jalen McDaniels' season was as wild a ride as any in the NBA this season. He started the season in the Hornets rotation due to injury, fell out of the rotation and took part in the G League bubble briefly before being recalled due to injury. By season's end, he was an integral part of the rotation and has carved out a future with the franchise.

Cody Zeller: B

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In hindsight, Cody Zeller's injury halfway through the first game of the season was more foreshadowing for the team than anyone realized at the time. Zeller's eighth season in the league was more of the same: He made an impact, but injuries limited his availability. Interestingly, Zeller's 2.0 net rating was the second-best mark on the team. While he has his flaws, he positively affects games... when healthy.

LaMelo Ball: A

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Even the most optimistic fans would not have predicted LaMelo Ball to have the impact he did on the Hornets. He not only had a standout season on the court but was equally influential off the court. The only reason he doesn't get an A+ is due to the injury that kept him out a month and affected him when he returned.

Cody Martin: B+

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The best way to see Cody Martin's value on the team is to look how much the team missed him down the stretch. While he has his limitations, he is someone head coach James Borrego called the best perimeter defender on the team multiple times. Playing high-level defense will keep players in the league for a long time, and Martin has carved out a role in the NBA for many years to come.

Caleb Martin: C

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Ironically, Cody and Caleb Martin have identically opposite games. While Cody made his name on the defensive end, Caleb is more of an offensive contributor. However, Caleb struggled mightily on that end this season, shooting 37.5% from the field and 24.8% from the 3-point line. When the team was at full strength, Caleb was out of the rotation, which shows he has a lot of work to do.

Devonte' Graham: A-

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Devonte' Graham's role with the Hornets was vastly different this season, but the third-year guard was still efficient. While his scoring average went down, his efficiency went up as a shooter. Most notably, he had the best net rating on the court this season. Again, though, injuries are the lone knock on Graham this season.

P.J. Washington - B+

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While P.J. Washington didn't make the jump that some would have hoped or wanted, he saw improved numbers nearly across the board. For a sophomore big man, he was an key defender in small ball lineups and offered versatility in the frontcourt.

Bismack Biyombo: B-

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When the team signed Bismack Biyombo late in free agency, I doubt either he or the Hornets anticipated the role he played. He was cast into a large role he struggled with, predictably. He's still a decent rim protector in spurts, but his offensive limitations severely hamstrung the Hornets on that end. Still, he served as a great veteran for this young team and ultimately was a small positive.

Miles Bridges: A+

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If not for his 11 days in health and safety protocols, Miles Bridges would have played every game for the Hornets this season, which seems like a minor miracle given the rest of the team. Bridges' massive jump in production made him arguably the most important Hornet. Again, his importance to the team most have been most felt when he wasn't available down the stretch of the regular season. Bridges has developed into arguably the most important piece of the Hornets future sans Ball and was likely the MVP this year.

Terry Rozier: A-

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After establishing himself in Charlotte last season, Terry Rozier exploded this season. He averaged a career-high in points, was as efficient as he's ever been and flirted with an All-Star berth. He was also the most available player, featuring in 69 of the 72 games. He was vital to this Hornets team but, unfortunately, wore down by season's end.

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