The Charlotte Hornets had a much quieter offseason in 2021 than they did in 2020. Having spent up big last summer they had less cap space to play with. As a result, several players from last season chose to take their talents elsewhere which could have an adverse impact on the Hornets.
Devonte’ Graham chose to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans, Cody Zeller went to the Portland Trail Blazers, and Malik Monk chose to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Recently it was announced that Caleb Martin has signed with the Miami Heat.
The Hornets had two first-round draft picks which the Hornets selected James Bouknight and Kai Jones. Both of these players add a further element of growth potential for this team which is certainly exciting for the Hornets fanbase. They have a tremendous upside for next season, as they have a roster with the potential to make a deep playoff run.
Charlotte Hornets free agency signing No. 1: Kelly Oubre jr.
Fresh off his stint with the Golden State Warriors, Kelly Oubre jr. is going to bring his defense, athleticism, and hopefully his 3-point shooting to the Hornets. The reason for hope is that Oubre struggled to find his shot early last season with the perimeter focussed Warriors.
Since being traded from the Washington Wizards in the 2018-19 season, Oubre has been a solid scorer. He averaged 17.9 points per game in his season and a half with the Phoenix Suns, and then 15.4 points per game in the season just gone with the Warriors.
He also adds effort on the glass, collecting at least 6.0 rebounds per game in the past two seasons. Add this to his defensive effort and intensity and the Hornets will be able to fit Oubre into their system almost seamlessly.
Charlotte Hornets free agency signing No. 2: Ish Smith
After losing Graham, the Hornets needed another backup point guard who fits their style. This is where the signing of Ish Smith comes into play. Smith is an 11 year veteran of the league whose last stop was with the Washington Wizards where he spent the previous two years.
The veteran has had 11 different teams in his time in the league, with the Hornets becoming his 12th home. Smith has really come into his own after the 2015 season where he averaged 12.0 points and 6.1 assists per game. He has barely had a bad season in the league since.
The Wizards had to choose between Smith and Raul Neto. They eventually went with the slightly younger Neto who has better defense and a slightly better shot from the perimeter. This is potentially an area that the Hornets are going to struggle with the signing of Smith.
He has the ability to blow past his defense with his speed. He has been improving his 3-point percentage over the last couple of seasons but is only a career 32.2 percent shooter from behind the long line. He has only taken 1.9 attempts per game from beyond the arc in the last two seasons compared with Graham who took 8.7 per game last season.