Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets’ injuries present significant challenges

LaMelo and Teammates

Even though the Charlotte Hornets’ injuries present significant challenges, Steve Clifford must prepare his team to continue to improve despite these misfortunes. Clifford is without his three best players: LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward. Also, Cody Martin is injured. With these players out of the lineup, those with little faith argue that the only thing to expect is the Hornets to lose games—and look awful losing these games. Ball, Rozier, Hayward, and Martin are not the only players on the team, however.

Charlotte Hornets’ injuries offer opportunities

Due to injury, LaMelo Ball has not played this season. Although the team will ultimately need him to be a true playoff contender, it has performed relatively well without him. Who would have thought this team could have defeated the Golden State Warriors, the defending NBA champions, without Ball? Not many. Most Hornets’ players probably did not consider it possible. However, the team defeated the Warriors.

RELATED: Will LaMelo Ball’s injury after him making the NBA All-Star Game?

As I have previously asserted, P.J. Washington must consistently perform like a first-round draft pick. In the win against the Warriors, he scored 31 points, which evidences he has the talent to be a star. While LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward remain injured, Washington needs to play like a star each game. He must be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. These injuries allow him to prove he can be a reliable standout for the Hornets.

Another player with an opportunity to take a lead role in the team’s best three players’ absence is Kelly Oubre Jr. While he is averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 rebounds this season, he is shooting 42.4% from the field, which is not horrible, but it indicates he misses many shots. He needs to improve his shooting average to at least 50% from the field. More practice and resolve to become a better scorer can lead him to a better shooting average.

Steve Clifford understands the challenges and opportunities

After losing to the Chicago Bulls, Clifford analyzed the Hornets’ challenges, stating, “That’s where attitude comes in and you can’t overreact. But you do have to know why you are winning and why you are losing. Look, if we have one more of those guys…If we have Melo or Terry or Gordon, we can win it. But you can’t play without all of them. And those are the guys we play through, so it makes it hard. I’m not saying we can’t win a game. But it’s going to be hard.”

Clifford sees opportunities to win when at least one of his best players returns. I want him to see opportunities to win and strengthen his team by focusing more on who is still available. The remaining players have talent and play with significant energy; he should use this talent and energy to his advantage.

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